WA Appeals Court Upholds $12.8 Million Award for Injured Firefighter

Firefighter Mark Jones fell 15 feet down the hole in the middle of a night in December 2003. He suffered traumatic brain injuries and a shattered pelvis. Many of his vertebrae were broken as were nearly all of his right ribs.

In 2010, a verdict awarded Jones almost $13 million for his disabilities, along with pain and suffering. 

As the Seattle Times reported, today the City of Seattle appealed, saying among other things that it should have been allowed to present evidence at trial of Jones’ prior alcohol use, even though he had not been drinking the night of the fall. An expert for the city speculated that Jones could have been disoriented by alcohol withdrawal symptoms, but the appeals court found that the trial judge was correct to bar that testimony from the trial.

The city’s insurer secretly videotaped Jones allegedly dancing and chopping wood. Even had Jones been doing such things, the sad truth is that even disabled people can occasionally dance and chop wood. While virtually $13 million seems like a significant amount, constant medical treatment and daily living assistance can quickly add up over the course of several decads. Jones is now in his late 40’s.

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