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Balcony Collapse Lawyer Settles Multiple Injury Case
Negligence – Improperly Maintained Apartment Balcony Safety Rail Failure
Case: Cause No. 11-01-00049-CV; Charles Kilchrist, Michael Lanasa, Steven Gotter and Joe Lanasa vs. Inland American the Woodlands Parkside Limited Partnership d/b/a The Parkside Apartments, LLC and Tammy Betts; In the 284th Judicial District Court, Montgomery, Texas, the Honorable Judge Cara Wood presiding.
Date: June 4, 2010
Kilchrist, Gotter and Lanasa were represented by Attorneys Chad D. Points and Tony Denena, Denena & Points, PC, Houston, Texas
The Inland defendants, including the apartment complex and manager were represented by Jim Ebanks of Ebanks & Horne, Houston, Texas
FACTS & ALLEGATIONS. Friends Charles Kilchrist, a training pilot for the United States Air Force, Mike Lanasa, Steven Gotter and Joe Lanasa were all standing near the safety railing for the balcony of a third story apartment. The railing gave way and Charles, Mike and Steven fell some thirty feet to the concrete below. The plaintiffs were using the balcony as it was intended by the apartments.
The Inland companies failed to properly inspect and maintain the balcony. Despite obvious signs that water was leaking into the wood structure of the balcony through cracks in the concrete flooring, no inspection was made of the wood framing. Indeed, the inspection system of the company was woefully inadequate. Immediately after this catastrophe, apartment management was instructed by corporate management in Chicago to destroy the evidence by dumping all the rotten wood into a construction container. In addition to having pictures of the rotten and weak wood we were supplied with a piece of the wood removed from the dumpster by a brave eyewitness. We sued the Inland companies for its negligence and destruction of evidence.
Premises liability is a notoriously difficult area of the law for injured Plaintiffs. Equally difficult Landlord-tenant law layered on top of premises liability made this a very nuanced and complex case. Despite having filed a motion for summary judgment the case settled at mediation.
INJURIES. Charles Kilchrist suffered a fractured ankle and wrist that required two surgeries. Chuck was non-weight bearing for several months and then endured painful physical therapy. He was unable to fly his war planes and train other pilots for approximately six months.
Steven Gotter suffered a non-operative injury to the rotator cuff and labrum in his right shoulder. He underwent several weeks of physical therapy.
Michael Lanasa also suffered an injury to his shoulder and underwent physical therapy.
Joe Lanasa suffered a severe contusion to his thigh and injury to his back.
RESULT. All four Plaintiffs settled their respective cases at mediation for confidential amounts.
PLAINTIFF EXPERTS. Frank Woeste, PE, PhD, balcony maintenance and inspections, Virginia Tech.
Paul Kastes, CPM apartment management procedures, St. Petersburg, FL.
DEFENDANT EXPERTS. The defendants settled prior to designating their experts.
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