A Jacksonville, FL, jury has handed down a $1,105,000 verdict in favor of Amanda Fournier for the broken neck she suffered at age 17 from falling through the faulty railing of a residential balcony
Fournier, now 21, was an incoming freshman at University of North Florida at the time of the fall. She was attending a fraternity party at a rented Jacksonville residence owned by Shahab Derazi. The party included up to 250 people, including up to 70 on the deck.
"Through our investigation and in the subsequent testimony we clearly showed the jury that the railing was not properly affixed to the second-floor balcony according to code or by the manufacturer's instructions," said Mark Avera, Partner, Avera & Smith. "The owner also failed to have a professional inspection of the balcony and railing, a structure that presented an extremely dangerous circumstance ultimately causing Amanda's devastating fall and injury."
Avera & Smith attorneys Mark Avera and Rod Smith demonstrated to the jury that Derazi hired an unlicensed contractor to repair the balcony and inspect the railing three months before the fall and that the contractor never secured a permit for the job. Avera asserted that an inspection by a building official would have very likely identified the dangerous condition of the balcony railing.
Fournier, who suffered compression fractures to vertebrae in her neck and back, required a two-level fusion of her cervical spine as a result of the fall, followed by extensive physical therapy. It's probable she will need more surgery in the future.