Phila. man sues wheelchair lift installer, seller over injuries from fall

By Jon Campisi | Sep 5, 2013

A military veteran who uses a motorized wheelchair because he lost a leg in

Vietnam is suing the makers of a wheelchair lift for injuries he allegedly sustained after falling from the device.

Ronald Smiley, who resides in Philadelphia, filed suit on Sept. 4 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania over back and shoulder injuries he claims to have sustained on Sept. 23, 2011 outside of his home.

The defendants named in the civil action are Franklinville, N.J.-based Artisan Builders and The Wheelchair Man Company of Clementon, N.J.

Smiley was leaving his home on that fall day two years ago, riding his scooter onto the wheelchair lift that had previously been installed by Artisan, when the locking mechanism on the device failed, causing the plaintiff to plunge 12 feet below to the street, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiff had purchased the wheelchair lift from defendant Wheelchair Man while workers employed by Artisan installed the device at the home, the suit shows.

The complaint states that the wheelchair lift in question had to be modified by Artisan to accommodate the size of Smiley’s scooter.

As a result of the modification, the metal ramp where the locking latch engages was filed down, which led to the safety alarm mechanism being altered.

The complaint accuses the defendants of negligence and carelessness for failing to properly install the lift, modifying the lift against the instructions of the manufacturer, failing to advise the plaintiff that the lift should not be modified, and failing to properly install, inspect, maintain and repair the lift in question.

As a result of his fall, the plaintiff sustained injuries to various discs in his back, as well as shoulder pain and damage to his nerves and nervous system.

Smiley has been, and likely will be in the future, required to undergo medical attention and care.

The plaintiff has been prevented from undertaking his daily activities and chores due to his injuries and he has suffered financial losses due to his paying for medical care, the suit states.

Smiley seeks judgment in excess of $150,000.

The plaintiff’s wife, Marilyn Smiley, seeks equivalent damages for loss of consortium.

The couple are being represented by attorney Sayde J. Ladov, of the firm Dolchin, Slotkin & Todd.


The federal case number is 2:13-cv-05152-CDJ.

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