June 21, 2018
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Knox County jury awards $56,000 to insurance inspector who fell in hole

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — A Knox County jury agreed Wednesday to award a Rockland man $56,000 for injuries he suffered when he fell in a hole while doing a home inspection.

The jury awarded the damages to Joshua Callahan following a two-day trial in Knox County Superior Court.

Callahan was doing a home inspection at Jonathan Doane’s home in Southport in February 2010, according to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Callahan. The inspection was conducted to allow the homeowner to switch his homeowner policy. Callahan’s attorney, C. Donald Briggs III of Rockport, said that there was an old storm drain next to the driveway and that heavy rains had caused the wooden cover to come off. The hole, about 2 to 3 feet deep, was filled with water and appeared to be a puddle, Briggs said Thursday.

The homeowner did not warn Callahan, who fell in the hole and aggravated a prior back injury as well as suffering a hip injury, Briggs said.

The lawsuit was filed against Doane’s estate, since Jonathan Doane died about a year after the incident, Briggs said.

Callahan is satisfied with the verdict because it vindicates his client’s contention that he was not at fault and suffered real injuries, Briggs said.

Attorney Paul Douglass of Lewiston, who represents the Doane estate, said his client is disappointed with the verdict but no decision has been made on whether to appeal.

Douglass argued that Callahan was partially at fault because he decided to step into a puddle of unknown depth. The attorney said the jury had initially awarded $76,000, but reduced that amount because of Callahan’s partial liability.

The jury voted 7-2 for the verdict.

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