PORTLAND, Maine, Dec. 19, 2017 – A judge has ordered a Florida businessman to pay an elderly Maine couple $338,000 for serious injuries caused by a defective wheelchair lift he sold to them on eBay.
Marion Murphy, 83, of Westbrook suffered three broken bones in her back in 2015 when the wheelchair lift collapsed, dropping her nearly four feet to a concrete floor in her garage. Attorney Daniel Kagan of Berman & Simmons filed a lawsuit last year against Ronald Kovarik in Cumberland County Superior Court. Doing business as Custom Carrier Engineering, Kovarik builds wheelchair lifts in Florida and sells them on eBay.
According to records filed with the court, on July 28, 2015, the wheelchair lift’s cable separated from the power winch with Marion Murphy aboard. The platform on which she rode fell suddenly from its fully extended height to ground level. She suffered a fracture of the T11 vertebra. The lift was repaired, but the failure happened again on Sept. 18, causing additional fractures to Murphy’s T10 and T12 vertebra. Murphy required surgery and weeks in rehabilitation before she could return home.
In a judgment issued Dec. 7, Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills found Kovarik liable for the damages caused by the defective lift he designed, manufactured, and sold Marion and her husband John Murphy.
The judgment requires Kovarik to pay Mrs. Murphy’s medical bills totalling $118,000, plus $200,000 for her pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. Mills also ordered Kovarik to pay $20,000 to John Murphy for the impact on his life. Kovarik also owes court costs and interests on the judgment.
“The defendant in this case sold a defective product out of Florida, refused to come to Maine after his product failed, denied any wrongdoing, and blamed Marion for her own injuries,” Kagan said. “This judgment shows why Maine’s court system is so important for protecting the public, and particularly our elderly, from unscrupulous merchants.”