PORTLAND, Maine,Dec. 19, 2017 – A judge has ordered a Florida businessman to pay an elderly Maine couple $338,000 forserious 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 thewheelchair 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. Doingbusiness 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 separatedfrom the power winch with Marion Murphy aboard. The platform on which she rode fell suddenly from its fullyextended height to ground level. She suffered a fracture of the T11 vertebra. The lift was repaired, butthe 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 thedamages caused by the defective lift he designed, manufactured, and sold Marion and her husband JohnMurphy.
The judgment requires Kovarik to pay Mrs. Murphy’s medical bills totalling $118,000, plus $200,000for her pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. Mills also ordered Kovarikto pay $20,000 to John Murphy for the impact on his life. Kovarik also owes court costs and interests onthe judgment.
“The defendant in this case sold a defective product out of Florida, refused to come to Maineafter his product failed, denied any wrongdoing, and blamed Marion for her own injuries,” Kagan said. “Thisjudgment shows why Maine’s court system is so important for protecting the public, and particularly ourelderly, from unscrupulous merchants.”