Who knew that being a judge could be so dangerous? Maybe jurists should get hazard pay. From the Boston Globe:
Few at the Norfolk Superior Court house in Dedham disputed that the worn and uneven front steps needed fixing. But when a judge in his late 60s tripped on them and broke his left kneecap more than three years ago, neither the state nor the county wanted to take responsibility for the condition of the steps.
Now the judge, Paul A. Chernoff, is suing both the state and the county to determine who is at fault. Chernoff, who is about to retire, wants to know which party will cover his future medical bills if he develops arthritis in the damaged knee or requires a knee replacement….
The judge is seeking $10,000 for anticipated future medical and hospital expenses and $25,000 for pain and suffering, according to court documents, which state that the injuries have caused a permanent disability.
According to Judge Chernoff’s lawyer, judges in Massachusetts aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation. Workers’ comp would have covered future medical bills — and the judge could plausibly claim he was injured in the course of performing his duties:
On the morning of June 30, 2004, Chernoff was returning to the Superior Court house after delivering instructions to a jury, which had gathered at the District Court house across the street. As Chernoff ascended the worn stone steps of the Superior Court – the same steps that spectators of the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, the Italian anarchists, went up in the 1920s – he tripped and landed on his knee.
Courthouse perils should not be underestimated. Magistrate Judge Ted Klein (S.D. Fla.) may have died as a result of deadly toxic mold in his courthouse.
Update: Might Judge Chernoff be engaging in some forum shopping? A tipster tells us:
FWIW, the courthouse where he fell has a reputation for juries who are not terribly plaintiff-friendly. Which is probably why he filed in Middlesex County (at least in part). I understand there are a few more liberal jurors in Cambridge…
Judge sues over court mishap [Boston Globe]