Ohio Jury Awards Family $2.1M In Restaurant Wrongful Death Suit

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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A Cuyahoga County Ohio jury awarded $2.1 million to the family of a woman who died after falling eight feet head first through a trap door in a popular Cleveland restaurant. While it may have been an accident waiting to happen, it was the testimony of witnesses that persuaded the jury to ultimately rule in the plaintiff’s favor.

It was an accident waiting to happen…

And it did, according to news reports quoting Edouard Sabitov’s attorney. Sabitov’s wife, Elena, was working at the House of Corned Beef on Shaker Square in Cleveland in 2001 when she fell through a trap door head first and died. Edouard sued the owners of the restaurant for failing to warn his wife about the trap door. His lawyers pointed to the actions of the Cleveland building inspector’s office, which inspected the restaurant after the accident and reported that the trap door was a serious hazard and should be fixed. However, the trial court judge had a different opinion and threw much of the claim out, saying that the hazardous trap door was essentially big enough that a reasonable person should have known to avoid it.

Undeterred, Sabitov’s attorney appealed to Ohio’s District Court of Appeals which reinstated most of the case and remanded it back to the lower court for a trial. The result of that trial was a $2.1 million jury verdict in favor of Sabitov.

Personal injury & witnesses

Personal injury cases such as this often hinge on witness testimony. In this case, only Elena and the restaurant’s owner were working the night of the accident. While the owner testified that he hadtold Elena about the trap door, he apparently couldn’t prove that. As a result, more than 18 witnesses were brought in to testify as to whether or not Elena may have actually known about the trap door. Fortunately, the plaintiff’s attorney was able to provide more or better evidence that Elena did not know about the trap door than the defense provided otherwise.

Personal injury cases, especially those alleging wrongful death, can be extremely challenging. Don’t leave your case to any personal injury lawyer. Consult with an experienced Ohio personal injury attorney  who understands the challenges surrounding wrongful death actions. Consultations with an experienced lawyer are without obligation, free of charge and strictly confidential. In addition, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means they don’t get paid until they recover for you.

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