Miami Attorneys Win Defense Verdict for Louisville Ladder
Scott Sarason and Jens Ruiz of RumbergerKirk’s Miami office won a defense verdict on behalf of Louisville Ladder, Inc. on February 27, 2020, in a product liability case in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida – West Palm Beach Division. The jury deliberated for about 45 minutes before returning a verdict in favor of Louisville Ladder, Inc., which was facing a request for $1.9 million in damages in the lawsuit.
Louisville Ladder, Inc. is a Kentucky-based company that designs, manufactures and distributes step stools, scaffolds and ladders, including attic ladders. It was sued by the plaintiffs Jerry Zaslow and Diane Paganuzzi-Zaslow. The plaintiffs were represented by the Rosalyn Sia Baker-Barnes and Jordan Dulcie of the Searcy Denney law firm in West Palm Beach.
Mr. Zaslow claimed that he fell as he was climbing down a wooden attic ladder installed in his home. The plaintiffs claimed that the subject attic ladder had a design defect and failed to adequately warn Mr. Zaslow about use of the ladder. As a result of the fall, Mr. Zaslow sustained a concussion, a compression fracture of L2 and bilateral sacral fractures. Mr. Zaslow’s physicians diagnosed him with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic Parkinson’s disease. The plaintiffs retained a physical pain physician and economist who opined that his past and future medical care exceeded $1 million.
The plaintiffs’ counsel argued that the subject attic ladder was defective, and failed to properly warn users about its potential risks. They also claimed that the attic ladder was unreasonably dangerous in design because the attic ladder’s handrail, one of several grip points, did not extend the full length of the ladder.
Louisville Ladder denied all of the plaintiffs’ allegations. Louisville Ladder argued that the handrail was not the cause of Mr. Zaslow’s fall, and the ladder’s warnings and instructions were adequate, but Mr. Zaslow failed to follow them. The defense successfully argued that Mr. Zaslow had used the subject attic ladder on multiple occasions prior to the accident, he knew where the handrail was prior to the accident, and given his position on the attic ladder prior to the fall, he had sufficient handrail, along with other grip points, available to use. The difference in Mr. Zaslow’s use of the attic ladder on the date of the accident as opposed to prior uses was that he was bringing down a suitcase from the attic, which for him, required the help of a second person.