Law & Justice

NJ Superior Court Denies Elevator Company’s Attempt to Overturn Judgment


NEWTON, NJ - The Honorable Edward V. Gannon, Judge of the Superior Court, has denied Schindler Elevator Corporation's attempt to over-turn the jury’s 2014 verdict in the case brought against the company by Richard and Sharon Tufaro.

"We could not be more pleased for the Tufaro family.  It has been more than ten years since Rich was permanently injured and unable to return to work as a master carpenter.  Judge Gannon's decision was well-reasoned and thorough," says Andrew Fraser, partner at Laddey, Clark & Ryan and attorney for the Tufaros.

In a twenty-five page decision issued by the Court on Tuesday, Judge Gannon stated, "Analyzing the case law provided, considering the testimony and this Court's own feel for the case, under the totality of the circumstances, the Court has determined that the jury award should not be remitted and there was no prejudice to Defendant [Schindler] to warrant a new trial."

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Richard Tufaro, of Montague, suffered permanent spinal injuries as a result of an incident in an elevator while he was working at Headquarters Plaza in Morristown in August of 2005.  It was alleged that Schindler Elevator Corporation failed to properly maintain the elevator which malfunctioned and dropped approximately two floors with Tufaro inside.

"We have now tried this case twice and been successful twice.  It is time for Schindler to accept responsibility for the permanent damage caused by their negligence. The jury has spoken [twice] and the Court has spoken," adds Timothy Dinan, who assisted Fraser with both the 2012 and 2014 trials in this case.

This case first went to trial in 2012 in Morristown and resulted in a $3.75 million verdict in favor of Richard Tufaro and his wife, Sharon representing compensation for the Tufaros’ harms and losses resulting from Schindler's negligence. The verdict was over-turned by the Appellate Division in 2013 due to a technicality and set for re-trial in 2014.

The second Morristown jury awarded Richard and Sharon Tufaro $7.75 Million for their losses resulting from Schindler's negligence.  Schindler appealed the jury verdict and the Appellate Division declined to over-turn the verdict, but returned it to the trial judge for an in depth analysis of the verdict amount.

After accepting submissions from the attorneys for Schindler and the Tufaros and after a hearing on the issues on October 30, 2015, Judge Gannon filed his decision on January 10, 2016. The judgment against Schindler Corporation and in favor of the Tufaros is now about $10.6 Million because of the interest that has accrued since the time of the accident, according to Dinan.

"Our juries were generous in recognizing the seriousness of Rich's [Tufaro] injuries and the devastating impact on both his life and his wife's life.  We can only hope that this verdict can finally help make up for what has happened to their lives due to Schindler's failure to properly maintain its elevator," states Lauren Fraser, partner and trial consultant at Laddey, Clark & Ryan.

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