Jury Rejects Handyman Who Sued Miami House owner Throughout Renovation

A jury rejected a handyman who claimed that he injured his neck and a shoulder in a fall while renovating a Miami home.

On March 28, 2019, plaintiff Eduardo Rivero, 47, a handyman, worked at a residence that was located at 2901 SW 67th Ave., in Miami. The home was undergoing extensive renovation. Rivero claimed that he fell into a hole in an unfinished floor. He claimed that he suffered injuries of his neck and a shoulder.

Rivero sued the home’s owner, Cesi Properties Inc. The lawsuit alleged that Cesi Properties’ president, Cesar Rodriguez Sotolongo, negligently created a dangerous condition that caused Rivero’s fall. The lawsuit further alleged that Cesi Properties was vicariously liable for Sotolongo’s actions.

Rivero claimed that, while he was working on a ladder, installing a beam, Sotolongo removed plywood that had been covering the hole. Rivero claimed that, when he descended the ladder, he inadvertently stepped backward, into the hole. He claimed that he sunk about six feet but secured himself before completely descending through the hole.

Sotolongo claimed that he was not involved in the accident or at the premises when the accident was said to have occurred.

Defense counsel contended that Rivero should have avoided the hole. Defense counsel also suggested that Rivero fabricated the accident. Rivero had been disabled and unable to work for about a year but had resumed working shortly prior to the date on which the accident was said to have occurred. Defense counsel argued that Rivero may have resumed working with the intent of fabricating an accident, for the purpose of initiating a lawsuit.

Rivero visited HCA Florida Kendall Hospital in Miami. He underwent minor treatment.

Rivero ultimately claimed that he suffered a comminuted, nondisplaced fracture of his left, nondominant arm’s shoulder. The fracture involved the head of the left arm’s humerus. Rivero also claimed that he suffered a tear of the same shoulder’s glenoid labrum; a mild tear of the same shoulder’s subscapularis tendon, which is a component of the rotator cuff; herniations and annular-tissue tears of his C2-3, C4-5 and C6-7 intervertebral discs; a herniation of his C3-4 disc; and trauma that disrupted the cervical lordosis, which is the normal curvature of the spine’s cervical region.

He claimed that each herniation disc caused impingement of a spinal nerve. He also claimed that his left shoulder’s rotator cuff developed tendinopathy, and he further claimed that the shoulder developed bursitis.

Rivero’s left shoulder’s injuries were addressed via his use of a sling, which was discarded after some six months had passed. His remaining injuries were addressed via about five weeks of chiropractic treatment.

Rivera claimed that his left shoulder experiences excruciating residual pain that restricts his performance of physical activities. He also claimed that he required further treatment. He sought recovery of future medical expenses, and he sought recovery of damages for past and future pain and suffering.

Defense counsel contended that Rivero’s left shoulder’s fracture predated Rivero’s work at Cesi Properties’ premises. Text messages sent by Rivero during the four months that preceded the job, referenced injuries of Rivero’s left arm and shoulder. Defense counsel also noted that the fracture was not deemed acute when it was diagnosed.

Defense counsel further contended that Rivero’s herniated discs were degenerative conditions that also predated Rivero’s work at Cesi Properties’ premises.

The jury rendered a defense verdict. It found no evidence of negligence attributable to Cesi Properties.

Verdict: defence

case: Edward Rivero v. Cesi Properties, Inc, no. 2019-021138-CA-01

Court: Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, 11th

judge: William Thomas

dates: 2/22/2022

Plaintiff Attorney: Michael P Weisberg; Weisberg and Weisberg; Miami, FL

Defense Attorney: Martyn Verster; Martyn WD Verster, PA; Miami, FL

Demand: $100,000

Offer: $5,000

Plaintiff Expert: Gregory Mazzotta DC, chiropractic, Miami, FL

Defense Experts: None reported

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