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Some advice for elevator mechanics everywhere courtesy of a Florida jury; take the passengers out of the elevator before trying to fix it. A 54 year-old woman who was bounced and jounced from the 23rd floor to the basement of a Jacksonville high rise office building was awarded millions of dollars in damages for her ordeal. The ride of terror left her with partial paralysis of her left leg, pseudoseizures, chronic depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, injuries that left her wheelchair-bound for years.

The $13 million judgment capped litigation that spanned more than a decade. In 1999 the woman was in the elevator on the 23rd floor of the building when the elevator malfunctioned. It dropped to the 8th floor and then stopped. An in-house mechanic employed by the Schindler Elevator Company was summoned to fix the balky lift. Rather than take the woman out of the car before working on it, he left her inside. The elevator then fell several more times - short falls arrested by safety devices - landing the car and its battered passenger in the building's basement.

After a two week trial the civil jury issued the award against Schindler Elevator Company and the owners of the high-rise office building. The jury decided that Schindler was not responsible for the initial plunge, but the mechanic's failure to get everyone out of the car before he attempted repairs was careless. Her attorney called that decision, "grossly negligent."


Some traffic crashes are severe enough to cause permanent injuries. Motorcycle accidents can be particularly serious because the rider has relatively little protection. If a rider crashes into an object due to someone else's negligence, he or she could be hurt for a lifetime.

A former San Diego man successfully sought compensation for such an injury recently. The 23-year-old Navy officer was making a left turn on his motorcycle. When a shuttle van turned in front of him, his Harley-Davidson collided with it and he was thrown onto the bike's handlebars, according to the man's attorneys. He was taken to the hospital with a crushed pubic bone, a catastrophic injury that required reconstructive surgery. He underwent the operation, but it permanently shortened his penis by about 1.5 inches; he was also left with nerve damage.

The man is no longer with the Navy and now lives in South Carolina. He got married shortly before the accident but is now divorced. It's uncertain whether he'll ever be able to conceive children.

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