Jose Gonzalez was a 55 year old retiree who lived with his wife in a garage apartment of a local homeowner. One morning Mr. Gonzalez attempted to open the cabinet when it suddenly became dislodged from the wall and struck Mr. Gonzalez on the top of his head. The impact was so severe that it compressed 5 levels of Mr. Gonzalez’s spinal cord requiring a spinal fusion and leaving him a paraplegic.
A subsequent investigation revealed that the contractor hired by the homeowner to convert her garage into an apartment failed to properly install the kitchen cabinets. Instead of screwing the cabinet into the wall, the handyman simply hung the kitchen cabinet on a hook on the wall, like one would hang a picture frame. The homeowner did not obtain a permit for the work performed nor did she ever investigate to see if the contractor she hired was licensed or qualified to perform the work.
The jury found the homeowner guilty of negligent hiring and returned a verdict in the amount of $4,900,000.