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Petersen v. Finazzo

Ken Petersen sustained serious injuries on the job. The jury rendered a $1.033 million verdict.
Ken Petersen sustained serious injuries on the job. The jury rendered a $1.033 million verdict.

“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” ~ Proverbs 24:10

The Finazzos were homeowners, who decided they wanted a pole barn structure built on their property. They wanted to save money, so they built it without getting a building permit or without a design by a structural engineer or other expert. The prior year, they had a garage built and had gone through all these motions. They hired a framer to build the pole barn as a side job. They paid him cash. They said he promised it was built to code.

One of the framers said the Finazzos were going to build stalls (that would provide structural strength) on their own to save money.  After the roof was built, Mr. Finazzo and a roofer friend went up on it and tacked down felt paper.  Although it felt shaky, they chose not to worry about it.

Ken PetersenThe roofer as a favor, ordered materials from Allied Building Supplies, using the name of his roof company to get a good rate for Mr. Finazzo. Allied had an employee named Ken Peterson.

Ken was assigned to deliver the load and with a coworker went to load the roof.  He did everything properly and was tied off to the roof.  As he lay down the very last of the 52 bundles of asphalt roofing material, the entire structure collapsed.  Ken fell about 15 feet, landed upright, but suffered a severe Lisfranc fracture to his right foot.  He also suffered spine herniations.

The incident ended Ken Petersen’s ability to earn a living through physical labor. The Finazzos blamed the roof collapse on the contractors.

Trial occurred in King County Superior Court Regional Justice Center before the Honorable William Downing. The jury placed 100% responsibility  upon the homeowners. Before trial, the homeowners’ insurance company refused to acknowledge any fault. They felt the jury would not like Ken Petersen. They offered $25,000 to settle the claim which was turned down. During trial the insurance company began to see that they might be wrong and they offered to settle the case for $150,000. Again, this was turned down since it would barely covered the cost of medical expenses.

Ultimately, the jury rendered verdict for $1,033,000.00.  After the verdict was read, the jury members embraced Ken Petersen. They validated his worthiness as a person, recognized his tremendous losses, and gave him the means to have financial stability and hope for the future.

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