Quick verdict for negligence trial

Published 7:57 pm Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Beaufort County jury deliberated for only 11 minutes before returning with the verdict that a former Washington Police lieutenant was not injured on the job as a result of Washington resident Gary Tomasulo’s negligence.

Cathy Fox was one of the first responders to the scene after Gary Tomasulo fell to his death from the fire escape on one of his downtown buildings on Sept. 7, 2009.

Fox, who had sustained a shoulder injury while investigating the scene of Tomasulo’s accidental death, sued the estate of Tomasulo, PGML, LLC, claiming that Tomasulo’s negligence led to her accident.

Defense attorney John Kincaid argued that Fox did not take any extra precaution in using the fire escape, contributing to her accident. The defense also proved that a reasonable person owning property would have done nothing different in regards to the condition of the stairs, which had been painted with enamel paint two months prior to Fox’s and Tomasulo’s accidents.

Fox’s counsel, Attorney Adrienne Blocker, told the court that as a police officer, Fox was obligated to go up the stairs, and she followed the same standard anyone would follow when descending, unaware of the slippery condition of the stairs. It was also argued that Tomasulo failed to: keep and maintain the premises in a reasonable and safe condition; warn Fox of the hazard via a sign; make a reasonable inspection of the premises; and correct what an inspection would have shown.

Fox underwent shoulder surgery to correct the injury in January 2010 and on June 15 that year was cleared by her doctor to return to full duty, having suffered a three-percent loss of range of motion in that shoulder.

During testimony, it was revealed Fox had received over $25,000 in workman’s compensation, though it was $4,100 less than what she would have earned had she remained on duty the entire time.

Fox was suing Gary Tomasulo’s widow, Marie Tomasulo, and Tomasulo’s estate for $100,000, as stated by Blocker during closing arguments. In very little time, the jury determined that Gary Tomasulo, nor his estate, was responsible for Fox’s accident and injury.