June 19, 2018
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Knox County jury reaches verdict in case in which both parties died before trial

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — In a case in which both the original plaintiff and defendant died before the case reached the courtroom, a Knox County jury unanimously agreed that a landlord’s negligence led to the injury of a tenant.

The jury voted 9-0 to award $85,000 to the estate of Mary Ellen Foisy. Foisy had filed the lawsuit in early 2012, claiming she had suffered serious injuries when she fell through the floor of a closet at the Vinalhaven home she had rented from William Schmidt.

Foisy had been vacuuming the closet floor in May 2011 when an old trap door gave way and she fell through, landing on the basement floor, according to the lawsuit. The suit indicated that when Schmidt remodeled the 1870-built home in 2010, he removed the stairs that had been under the trap door.

The lawsuit stated that Foisy incurred substantial medical expenses as a result of her injuries.

Before the case could get to trial, however, Foisy died of cancer on April 10, 2012. Schmidt died of cancer four days later.

Attorney Daniel Kagan of Lewiston, who represented the Foisy estate, said he has never been involved in a case in which both the plaintiff and defendant have died from causes unrelated to the lawsuit before the case was settled.

Kagan praised Justice Jeffrey Hjelm for stressing to the jurors that they should not feel sympathy for either party because of their deaths but to rather focus on the facts of the case.

The estate for Schmidt was represented by attorney Jack Miller of Portland. He declined comment after the verdict was issued.

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