It was an afternoon rain shower and leaky skylight that turned out to be “the perfect storm” resulting in a slip and fall for Willie Tookes. Mr. Tookes was shopping at the Orange Park Mall in June 2003 while visiting from out of town. As he carried his shopping bags through the common area, he had no warning of the water hazard he was about to encounter, or how it would ultimately change his life.
Mall personnel and management had long known about a leak in the overhead skylight system which allowed water to penetrate and collect on the tile floor below when it rained. The condition knowingly remained in disrepair for more than a year leading up to Mr. Tookes’ injury. When he unsuspectingly stepped in the water, he might have just as well stepped on a sheet of ice.
Mr. Tookes fell hard and injured his back. After being released from emergency care, he returned to his home in Rochester, N.Y., to follow up with his family physician. Over the next several days, his back pain became relentless, and he developed burning and numbness in his legs. He came under the care of a neurosurgeon, and was diagnosed with a herniated disc and severe nerve injury. At that point, Mr. Tookes began a four year medical battle to overcome what had become an incapacitating condition. He underwent three major surgeries in an effort to achieve meaningful relief. Despite having a series of metal rods and screws inserted into his spine, Mr. Tookes continues to live with ongoing pain and disability.
Mr. Tookes’ injuries from the slip and fall accident have been accompanied by profound lifestyle changes. He had been a dedicated employee of the Eastman-Kodak Company for more than 30 years. Despite an ambitious physical rehabilitation program, at 55 years of age and in otherwise good health, Mr. Tookes was forced to leave the job he loved. His passions for exercise and physical activity were also been deeply impacted, and he has been forced to abandon his daily five mile walks.
Despite his ordeal, Mr. Tookes has consistently managed to maintain a positive and productive outlook. After three years of litigation, he is determined to move on with his life and make the best of his situation. Recent legal negotiations resulted in a $1 million settlement. The settlement helps to replace lost income, and continue an aggressive and costly pain management rehabilitation program. The financial recovery could not have come at a better time or gone to a more deserving person. Like so many others we have had the privilege to represent at Terrell • Hogan, Mr. Tookes has demonstrated extraordinary courage and spirit in the face of adversity.
If you or a loved one has become injured by a slip and fall accident, it is important to consult with a Jacksonville personal injury attorney who has the experience and resources to vigorously pursue your premises liability claim. You may contact me at 904-722-2228 for a complimentary evaluation.