A District of Columbia landlord has been ordered by a Superior Court jury to pay $104,000 to a tenant who was seriously injured when he feel through a stairway that the landlord alledgedly had failed to repair.
Robert Walker, a bookkeeper, testified in court that his landlord, William J. Davis Inc., had not properly maintained the fire escape stairway Walker used to leave his third-story apartment on April 6, 1978.
According to Walker, he climbed down the metal stairs from the third to the first floor in search of his dog. He fell when he reached what he thought was a step on the first floor that apparently had rusted away, Walker testified.
Walker's attorney, Billy R. Hicks, argued that Davis should have been aware of the damaged step, and therefore was negligent in failing to repair the damage at 1416 R St. NW.
Attorney R. Harrison Pledger Jr., who represented the landlord, denied that his client was negligent. Pledger contended that any injuries suffered by Walker were due to Walker's own carlessness.
Walker testified in the three day trial that he injured his leg, his head and his back when he fell. He said the leg injury required 23 stitches to repair. Walker told the jury he still suffers extensive pain from the back injury which he said involves his spinal column.
According to testimony, Walker has incurred $3,500 medical and in hospital bills. He also has lost an estimated $9,000 in wages and stands to lose an additional $57,000 in future earnings, according to testimony.
The father of a 12-year-old son, Walker said he walks with a limp and cannot sit in one place for long periods, as his work demands.