A jury in York County awarded $1.71 million last week to the estate of a Gloucester resident who died during the 2011 tornado that wreaked havoc in the county.
According to Robert H. Haddad, attorney for the estate, the late Richard Ingram had purchased a modular home from Custom Builders Express LLC and was in his nearby garage working when the tornado hit in April 2011. After the tornado, the house was found lying in the vicinity of the garage, and Ingram was found dead on the slab of the garage.
Haddad said that the home had been lifted off its foundation four or five feet and had flown over a car and through the air before crashing into the garage. During the discovery phase of the case, he said, it was determined that the house had been improperly fastened to its foundation by Custom Builders and that the defendant had allegedly violated several portions of the building code.
Custom Builders and its insurance company, Benchmark, represented by Attorney C. Jay Robbins IV, offered two arguments for the defense. First, Robbins argued that the strength of the tornado was so great that even if the house had been properly fastened down it would have been ripped from its foundation, and second, he posited that the garage had been destroyed before the house hit it and that the house had just come to rest beside the already-destroyed garage, with Ingram’s death caused by destruction of the garage before the house hit it.
The jury, after two hours of deliberation, returned a verdict that awarded the estate financial compensation for funeral expenses and the loss of a family member. Surviving family members are Ingram’s father, also Richard Ingram, and his sisters, Dee, Martha, and Cynthia Ingram.