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Appeals court upholds parking garage death verdict

On July 13, it was reported that the Wisconsin Court of Appeals upheld the $39 million jury verdict against a builder who was held liable in the death of a 15-year-old boy. The jury's verdict included compensatory and punitive damages that would be paid to the boy's family, others who had been injured in the accident and the county.

In 2010, a concrete slab weighing 13 tons fell in a city-owned parking garage, killing the 15-year-old boy. The parking garage was constructed in the 1980s by a construction firm that was hired by the county. On the outside of the structure, heavy decorative concrete panels lined the building. While the panels were designed by an engineering firm, it was determined after an investigation that the panels had not been installed or manufactured to the engineering firm's specification.

The construction firm and its insurers filed an appeal and argued that the claims were filed after the statute of limitations had run out. Further, it was argued that there was not adequate evidence to support some of the damages. The insurance firm additionally argued that it should not be held liable. While the lower court said that the insurance firm was liable for all of the damages, the appeals court disagreed and determined that the insurance was only liable for the limit outlined in the policy.

When preventable accidents on federal, state or personal properties result in deaths or life-altering injuries, those who were affected could hold the owners of the property liable. A premises liability attorney could provide evidence showing that the property owner or others who were paid to work on the property failed to ensure that the premises were safe and free of hazards.

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