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Denver Judge Triples Punitive Damages Awarded Against Qwest for Paralyzing Spinal Cord Injury Suffered by Telephone Repairman

It was recently reported that Denver District Court Judge Sheila Rappaport tripled the punitive damage awarded by a jury against Qwest Communications to a former worker, Andrew Blood, who was paralyzed while working on one of Qwest’s telephone poles — from $18 million to $63 million.  Qwest was also ordered to pay $21 million in compensatory damages, bringing the total awarded to Blood to $84 million. It is the largest personal injury award in Colorado history.

Blood had been completing work on the pole when, due to rot, the pole broke 6 inches below the ground and sent Blood plunging about 25 feet to the ground. The fall fractured Blood’s spine and immediately paralyzed him from the waist down.

What had Qwest done to arouse the judge’s ire? The rot in the pole was apparently the kind of defect that could have been discovered through a routine inspection, but it came out at trial that not only had Qwest never inspected the pole that Blood was working on, but that with just a few exceptions, none of Qwest’s poles across the state had ever been inspected. Moreover, even in the 3 years after Blood’s accident, Qwest continued to fail to inspect, maintain and repair its estimated inventory of 157,000 telephone poles countrywide, thus leaving additional workers at risk for serious personal injury or death.

See further discussion of the trial evidence here and here.

Accidents can happen anywhere — on a job site, in an automoble, in the park — and can cause serious injury resulting in paralysis. All it takes is one horrible moment to forever change your life – or the life of a loved one. If your injury was caused by the negligence of another, the experienced spinal cord injury lawyers at D’Amore & Associates in Oregon and Washington can help determine if you have a claim, and if so, recover damages, including the costs of your medical care, lost wages, loss of consortium, pain and suffering — and any other expenses that result from your injury.

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