Saturday, May 10, 2003

Victim receives $550,000

Island winery terrace collapse hurt woman

The Associated Press

SANDUSKY, Ohio - A jury has awarded $550,000 to a woman injured in a terrace collapse nearly three years ago at Lonz Winery.

It was the first claim to advance to a verdict from the collapse that killed a man and injured 75 people, attorneys said Friday. Another 82 claims have been settled privately, said Kevin Young, an attorney for the winery.

An eight-person jury in Erie County Common Pleas Court on Thursday awarded damages to Ruth Oleska, 51, of Bradford, Pa., who had surgery for a broken heel.

In the trial, she testified about the shock and terror of her fall, and how her injury has since hindered her life. Her attorney, Charles Murray, sought $1 million.

Her husband, Joseph Oleska, previously took a confidential settlement.

The people were hurt when a concrete patio collapsed July 1, 2000, and dropped them into an empty cellar.

Mark Reighard, 29, of Columbus, was pronounced dead at the winery on Middle Bass Island. His family settled their lawsuit in November 2001. Terms were not disclosed.

The former winery and 124 acres surrounding it are being developed into a park. The state had started the process of buying the site before the collapse.

Last August, after 69 claims had been settled, plaintiffs with lawsuits still pending dropped their claims against Paramount Distillers Inc., the winery's former parent company.

Instead, the remaining lawsuits sought to claim damages from a subsidiary of Paramount, Mantey-Mon Ami-Lonz Wineries, which agreed not to contest its liability for the collapse.

The Oleska case was one of 11 cases remaining. Another trial was scheduled for Friday, also in Erie County, for Nichole Lammers, of Columbus.

The only issue at the Oleska trial was how much money she was entitled to receive, because of disagreement about the extent of her injury and how much the aftermath cost her.

Murray said Oleska was unable to concentrate at work after the injury and lost her job at a behavioral center for children.

"The jury was very rational in their deliberations. They were insightful," Murray said.

Young on Friday called the verdict "fair and just."

"The issue was what is fair and reasonable compensation for Mrs. Oleska's injuries," he said.

"My client obviously is very sorry for the accident."

Jammin' is laid-back street fest
Dancin' crowd helps festival pick up the pace
Pathologist's conviction reversed
College grads find dream jobs elusive
Hamilton soldier shot dead in Iraq

Event honors traditions
Robbers hit bar; patron shoots
Obituary: Jean Angela Noppenberger, Sister of Charity
Tristate A.M. Report
Number of audits likely to grow
Fire captain accused in abduction
Hey west side, you're next

McNUTT: Author to lead writers' session
Faith Matters: Moms honored at area services

Gas leak closes road by Lebanon
Suspect returns for trial in 1974 killing
Cleanup spoils summer
A snip for charity
Fugitive who owes victim imprisoned

Victim receives $550,000
Pickerington parents propose pay-to-play to salvage activities
President picked for Cleveland Foundation
Ohio contests unemployment fine
Historic highway helped America grow westward
Boarder pleads guilty to murder of Mount Victory councilwoman
More animal farms avoid regulation
Bathroom passes ease wait for new coaster
Ohio Moments

Land wanted by airport to cost $9.5M
Tired of your old tires? Now's your chance
Western regents OK joint engineering degree programs with UK and U of L
Murder suspect had violent history
Three charged for meth lab
'Probable' case of SARS being treated in N.Ky.
N.Ky. Rep. Lucas one of only four Democrats who voted for tax cut
Escapee gives up after tear gas lands
Court upholds dismissal of case against Mexican
WKU dorm fire, death prompts review of safety
Kentucky obituaries
Court rules in favor of W.Ky. industrial park bond issue
Child-support lawsuit targets candidate
Candidates spent $12.5M
Cleanup proceeding at Paducah plant