Justin C. Leto recently obtained a $10 million judgment for a man who was catastrophically injured when he fell from the wheelchair lift affixed to a Broward County TOPS van, which was owned and operated by Allied Medical Transport, Inc. NBC interviewed the victim, his family and Justin C. Leto regarding the ordeal and the long path to justice. You can read the article and watch the video here.
Miguel Colareta suffered from a chronic condition which rendered him unable to walk. Despite his disability, he raised three daughters with his wife, Aida, and continued to go to work every day at Goodwill Industries in Ft. Lauderdale. Since he could not drive or take the county bus, Miguel used the paratransit system provided by Broward County. A van equipped with a wheelchair lift would pick him up from home each morning, drive him to work, and pick him up to take him home when the work day was over.
On April 15, 2012, Miguel arrived at work on one of the paratransit vans. While he was backing his wheelchair up onto the wheelchair lift, the lift failed and Miguel fell to the ground. The result was a severe brain and spinal cord injury which rendered him a quadriplegic. A man who battled disability with success his entire life was now relegated to a nursing home, unable to move his hands or even lift his head.
Our firm investigated the case and found out that Allied Medical Transport had performed absolutely no preventative maintenance on the wheelchair lifts, despite the manufacturer requiring routine and specific maintenance. Shockingly, the wheelchair lift that failed and caused Miguel’s fall had been open and closed nearly 9,000 times without any preventative maintenance. The manufacturer required preventative maintenance every 750 times the lift was used. This gross negligence was not isolated to the one van but appeared to be the norm for the entire operation. Some vans had lifts which had received no maintenance after 15,000 cycles.
To make matters worse, the wheelchair lift that caused Miguel’s fall was the subject of a recall only one month prior to the incident and even though Allied Medical Transport knew of the recall, the vans were permitted to continue operating throughout Broward County.
After many months of litigation, our firm secured a $10 million judgment against Allied Medical Transport and is now suing Allied Medical Transport’s insurance company, Sparta Insurance, alleging that Sparta acted in bad faith when it failed to settle the case for it’s insurance policy limits when it should have done so.