Court Affirms Multi-Million Dollar Award in Elevator Injury Case

A New Jersey man and his wife are closer to receiving a $7.75 million damage award after the New Jersey Superior Court rejected arguments by an elevator company. The plaintiff, Richard Tufaro, a union master carpenter, was injured in 2005 when the elevator in which he was working dropped two floors without warning. He was injured while onsite at the Headquarters Plaza. Because of the injuries sustained in the fall, he has been unable to return to his former employment.

Closed ElevatorTufaro had filed a third-party claim against Schindler Elevator Corporation, the manufacturer, arguing that Schindler was negligent in maintaining the elevator. The jury awarded damages of $3.75 million to Tufaro and his wife. After the initial trial, though, Schindler filed an appeal, contending that the judge incorrectly instructed the jury. The appellate court agreed and vacated the judgment, sending the case back for a new trial. The second trial ended with a combined verdict of $7.75 million.

As with the first trial, Schindler appealed, asking the appellate court to find the damage award to be excessive, and asking for a new trial. In its opinion, the Superior Court responded to both arguments. Concluding that Schindler had not “address[ed] the legal standards warranting a new trial,” the court rejected that request. Furthermore, the court found that the damage award, though nearly double the original verdict, was not excessive.

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