Harold Leon Bostick, a former law student who was left quadriplegic when weightlifting equipment at his gym crashed onto his neck, has won his lawsuit. A federal court jury awarded $11 million in damages. Bostick has now won a total of $18.6 million following seven long years of litigation. The 39-year-old former Marine, who holds degrees in chemical engineering, business and law, was doing squats on a machine at Gold’s Gym in Venice, California, when the horizontal bar of weights bearing a couple hundred pounds of weight fell on his neck. The machine did not have adjustable safety stops installed. The gym had settled with Bostick for $7.3 million. The jury ruled against Atlantic Mutual, the insurer for machine manufacturer Flex Equipment Co., and awarded the additional $11.3 million. This man’s medical bills were about $700,000 for the first year after his injury.
The reason that Atlantic Mutual was the sole Defendant in the case that went to trial is another story and a most interesting one. Bostick had sued Flex and Gold’s Gym originally. After filing suit, he offered to settle with Flex and its insurer, Atlantic Mutual, for Flex’s policy limit of $1 million. Estimating that a loss at trial could easily exceed $1 million, a lawyer for Atlantic Mutual told his client “it may be dangerous to reject the Plaintiff’s current offer” and recommended settlement. But Atlantic Mutual never responded to Bostick’s offer and the case went to trial. A Superior Court jury found Flex liable and awarded Bostick more than $14.6 million. Frustrated that its insurer did not settle and being unable to pay the jury award, Flex gave Bostick the right to sue Atlantic Mutual for bad faith for refusing to settle earlier in the case. Gold’s Gym settled with Bostick for $7.3 million. When the case went to trial, the jury ruled against the insurance company and awarded Bostick the additional $11.3 million.
While Bostick will be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, he still sees one real benefit. This man says that he will now have more money “to help other people who are handicapped.” In July, he and some friends founded the Disabled Sports and Fitness Foundation, a nonprofit group intended to help people afford and gain access to sports equipment for physical therapy. In some ways, Bostick’s goals today are not so different than they were when he enrolled as a law student at Pepperdine University a few months before his injury. While Bostick has a physical disability, he hasn’t lost his spirit and that’s good. The California lawyer who represented Bostick in this case did an outstanding job. However, Bostick says no amount of money can give him the life he had before the evening of January 4, 2001.
Source: Associated Press
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