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Our Client v. Home for the Aged

The case was tried in San Francisco Superior Court and ended in a mistrial. Soon afterwards it was settled for $500,000. Our client was a part time maintenance man for the Jewish Home for the Aged on Silver Avenue in San Francisco. The home had a boiler that kept the hot water a constant high temperature in the range of 130-150 degrees. The water circulated through the walls of the home. Another worker noticed a water leak on a lower floor that seems to be cold water. Our client was sent to investigate the leak. To minimize the later repair from cutting into the wall, he made a hole only big enough for his body to fit through. The hole was approximately two feet by one feet in size. After cutting the wall entry hole, our client felt water running down a pipe and it appeared to be cool to the touch. He entered the wall and the space inside was just big enough for his body. While he was in the process of shining a light upwards, he bumped another nearby pipe and was immediately showered with a torrent of hot water from above. Apparently the leak was in the hot water pipe and by the time it ran down the other pipe it cooled off.He desperately tried to get out of the wall by first sticking his head out the opening but the hot water was so intense that he could not hold his head there very long and was trapped in the small space in the wall until he passed out from the pain of the burning water. When the case was tried the mere description of what happened caused one juror to go into a epileptic fit and that is what ultimately resulted in a mistrial. The affected juror explained that he was claustrophobic and when he head about the bad burns to the client’s back he just could not take it.