Pennsylvania Court Awards $2 Million Compensation To Man Who Lost Part Of His Foot In Lawn Mower Accident | News, Sports, Jobs


WILLIAMSPORT — A state Superior Court panel has upheld a $2 million award in a Lycoming County lawn mower accident case in which the operator lost part of a foot.

He dismissed an appeal from Mark Sales and Leasing Inc. of Williamsport, which attempted to use the COVID-19 pandemic as the basis of its appeal against the sentence against Harold Getting and his wife Veronica.

He lost part of his left foot on September 16, 2017, when a riding mower he rented from the company tipped over an embankment while he was mowing his lawn.

The 2020 jurors awarded $1.5 million for pain and suffering and $300,000 for disfigurement. They awarded his wife $500,000 for the loss of the consortium.

Rewards were reduced by 15%, the amount that jurors found Getting was responsible for the accident by failing to read the lawnmower’s warning label regarding use on slopes.

Judge Eric R. Linhardt added deferred damages to cover the period between one year after the lawsuit was filed and the date of the verdict. As a result, the Gettings received $2,047,217.

The COVID-19 issue arose when O’Neill, who has heart problems, did not return for the rest of the trial after learning after he finished testifying that a juror had been indirectly exposed to the virus.

The trial resumed the following day after that juror was dismissed and the courtroom was sanitized.

On appeal, the rental company argued that the judge erred in not granting a mistrial and awarding deferred damages for the time the pandemic closed state courts.

In denying the motion to mistrial, Linhardt wrote:

“I imagine that Mr. O’Neill’s store continued to be open under the circumstances, and I have no reason to believe that his store is safe.[r] than this courtroom.

“In fact, he is highly likely not to take the steps this court has taken to ensure his health and safety.”

The panel’s ruling on Thursday affirming that ruling said the rental company had not advanced any procedural or constitutional theories to support its motion to have the trial dismissed until it filed its post-trial brief.

On the issue of damages for delay, the panel acknowledged on March 18, 2020 that the State Supreme Court suspended jury trials and continued scheduled court docket events across the Commonwealth.

But the legal urgency did not preclude the parties from engaging in settlement negotiations and, in fact, it did in this case, the panel noted.

The Gettings’ lawsuit claimed the accident happened because the lawn mower was not suited to the slopes of their yard.

They argued that Lemuel sales associate Scott Barger, who had visited their home and was aware of the sloping terrain, should have rented them a suitable mower.

Getting also said he did not receive a user manual for the mower. If he had, he said, he would have read it.

The defense claimed at trial that the Gettings were responsible for choosing the mower and on appeal there was insufficient evidence to establish a case of negligence.



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