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Portland jury issues $20 million verdict against landlord

A man who fell through a rotting walkway argued that the owners of the apartment complex refused to fix the problem to cut costs.

Posted: May 21, 2018 12:10 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A jury has ordered a rental-property company to pay more than $20 million after a man fell through a rotting walkway at his Portland apartment complex.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that Robert Trebelhorn argued that Los Angeles-based Prime Group, which owns the Wimbledon Square apartments, refused to fix the walkway to cut costs. Trebelhorn suffered a torn meniscus and ongoing pain after he plunged thigh-deep into the second-story walkway in February 2016.

His attorneys said that despite the urging of a contractor, the company refused to spend about $750,000 to $1 million to make up for a decade of deferred maintenance at the 600-unit complex.

Prime Group says it owns 16,000 rental units across the country. The company's lawyer argued that the case was about a man who injured his leg -- not an example of "evil intent" by the complex's owners.

Trebelhorn will receive nearly $300,000 under the verdict returned Friday. Most of the $20 million awarded in punitive damages will go to Oregon's crime victims' compensation fund and its courthouse facilities and security fund.

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