Joseph Rossetti of the Middlebury-based law firm Moore, O’Brien & Foti. (CYNTHIA McINTYRE, Rhamelin)
A Waterbury Superior Court jury has awarded a 49-year-old Wolcott man $1.4 million for injuries he suffered after falling nearly 15 feet from a ladder while attempting to repair an icy roof in February 2014.
The six-person jury deliberated for about two hours on April 12 before rendering its verdict in favor of Thomas R. Ciarlo. The jury, comprised of four women and two men, did find that Ciarlo, who shattered both legs, was 30 percent responsible for the fall, which resulted in the verdict being reduced to $977,802.
Ciarlo, a former construction worker who had worked on the roof of Eva George’s home before, was asked by George to check out a possible leak at her property in Waterbury. Ciarlo began to descend the ladder after noticing snow and ice on the roof. He was about four rungs down the 24-foot ladder when he fell onto the pavement, according to Joseph R. Rossetti, Ciarlo’s attorney.
“The main claim we made to the jury was that there was a failure to reasonably inspect the property and to warn my client of the dangerous condition at the property,” Rossetti said.
Rossetti, of Moore, O’Brien & Foti in Middlebury, said Ciarlo has had three surgeries on his left leg and one on his left foot. “He walks with a slight limp and he is on regular painkillers,” Rossetti said. “He wakes up every single day with pain in both legs.”
The nine-page lawsuit was filed in February 2006 and has seen several attorneys from different firms take over the case. Rossetti’s firm took over the case in the spring of 2016.
“For a guy that is extremely rough around the edges, he literally choked up in the courtroom,” Rossetti said of his client. “He started tearing up and he hugged me. This was 13 years in the making. After four attorneys and a lot of pain and hardship, the decision finally came down.”
Gary Hohenthal, of Meehan, Roberts, Turret & Rosenbaum in Wallingford, represented George and insurance carrier Safeco. Hohenthal, who was not available for comment, can ask Judge Andrew Roraback to set aside or reduce the verdict. Hohenthal can also appeal to the state’s Appellate Court.
Rossetti said Safeco “never offered more than $10,000.”
“I did not ask for a specific amount of money,” Rossetti said. “I left that up to the jury. The only thing I asked for was the $76,861 in medical bills. It’s important to note that many of the medical bills and records had been destroyed or were unavailable.”