Repairman sues customer over trip on stairway

By Kelly Holleran | Aug 5, 2009

A sewer repairman has filed suit against a Granite City couple after he says he fractured his ankle while descending a staircase with uneven steps.

Taylor Schultz filed a lawsuit July 31 in Madison County Circuit Court against Scott Whitehead.

Schultz claims Whitehead hired him to fix a sewer clog at his home located at 4118 Stearns Ave. The lawsuit says Schultz arrived on Aug. 11, 2007, to perform the work.

While walking down a stairway leading to the basement, Schultz tripped on an uneven step, the lawsuit says.

Whitehead had constructed the steps in 2003, but the project "was defective, in that the rise and/or depth of the step tread located approximately one-quarter of the way from the bottom of the stairway was different from the rise and/or depth of the step tread from the rest of the stairway," the suit states.

In addition to his fractured right ankle, Schultz suffered great pain and mental anguish, incurred medical expenses, lost large sums of money he might have gained from the pursuit of his normal occupation and sustained disability and disfigurement, the complaint says.

Schultz blames Whitehead for failing to design the stairway so that the steps were consistent the whole way down.

Since the accident and after receiving a notice from Schultz warning of his intent to file a complaint, Whitehead replaced the stair so it is even with the remaining steps, according to the complaint.

"Due to the replacement of the defective stair step and/or riser and the unavailability of said defective portion of the stairway at the premises, Plaintiff is prejudiced in his efforts to prove his negligence claim as stated in Count I of this complaint," the complaint says.

In the two-count suit, Schultz is seeking a judgment of more than $100,000, plus costs.

Gregory A. Becker and Mary E. Massa of Becker, Schroader and Chapman in Granite City will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-800.

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