FORT WORTH, Texas — In 2010, maintenance man Steven Landers was working on the roof of a Williamson-Dickie building on Blue Mound Road when he fell headfirst through an acrylic plastic skylight.
He landed 35 feet below on a concrete floor.
His broken right leg was eventually amputated; his back, some ribs and his left arm were broken; and a lung was punctured.
Landers’ lawsuit against the skylight manufacturer, Wasco Products of Wells, Maine, went to trial March 23 in 48th state District Court. His attorneys asked the Tarrant County jury for a $15 million judgment.
On April 2, jurors awarded Landers $33.8 million. A final judgment in the case is pending.
“I think it was a fair decision,” Landers said. “The jury worked hard to reach their decision.”
Wasco CEO Jeff Frank told the Star-Telegram that Wasco offers its customers appropriate fall protection screens and takes safety very seriously, but “responsibility for skylight safety does not rest with Wasco alone. Owners and installers must provide the ultimate protections to assure skylight safety for those who work near and around installed skylights, and that apparently failed to occur in this case.”
“All Wasco personnel are saddened by the accident,” Frank said in an email.
Landers, 31, is married with four children. On Sept. 18, 2010, he was replacing a venting motor on the roof when he squatted to pick up tools, lost his balance and put his hand on the skylight to steady himself. Instead, he fell through, said Mark Haney, Landers’ attorney.
Despite the loss of his right leg below the knee and a bad back, Landers returned to work after 14 months.
“Once I got my prosthetic, I could walk and came back to work,” Landers said.
Initially, Landers sued Wasco, Anchor Roofing and Williamson-Dickie. Anchor Roofing settled out of court, and Williamson-Dickie was dropped from the suit early on.
Haney said Friday that he believes Williamson-Dickie was never aware of the potential danger.