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Washington Jury Awards $202,500 to Ex-Prisoner for Injuries from Top Bunk Fall

Washington Jury Awards $202,500 to Ex-Prisoner for Injuries from Top Bunk Fall

A Washington state jury awarded a former prisoner and his wife $202,500 for injuries incurred after he fell from a top bunk at the Washington Corrections Center (WCC).

Robert Emerick entered the Washington Dept. of Corrections (WDOC) as a frail 62-year-old man. Prior to his arrival in prison in February 2005, Emerick’s attorney provided the WDOC with extensive medical records and doctor notes showing that Emerick suffered from complex medical conditions. Specifically, he had advanced osteoporosis, osteonogenesis imperfecta, and restless leg syndrome. He was placed on numerous medical restrictions and given a low bunk pass.

After completing intake at WCC, Emerick spent nine uneventful months at Athanum View Correctional Complex. It was while making a temporary stop at WCC on his way to work release that he was seriously injured. Guards assigned him to a top bunk despite his medical restrictions, and on November 22, 2005 he fell from the bunk.

The fall caused a non-union fracture in Emerick’s left humerus that required two surgeries. He also suffered a fractured nose and abraded forehead. The aftermath was worse, as those injuries caused a delay in his planned hip replacement, which had been diagnosed with bone-on-bone degenerative arthritis.

In January 2007, Emerick’s left femur broke through his pelvic floor, resulting in emergency hip replacement surgery. He later suffered a mass thrombosis and permanent hematoma from the bone shatter.

In July 2008 a state jury awarded $195,000 to Emerick for his injuries, plus $7,500 to his wife for loss of consortium. They were represented by Seattle attorney Mark Leemon. See: Emerick v. Washington Department of Corrections, King County Superior Court, Case No. 06-2-29898-5.

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Related legal case

Emerick v. Washington Department of Corrections