Ohio couple sues Sears after man fell off Nordic Track

PARKERSBURG -– An Ohio couple has filed suit against Sears and Icon Health and Fitness, alleging the man aggravated a pre-existing cervical condition after falling off a Nordic Track inversion bench in the store. Peter and Christina Pantelidis claim they were at Sears in the Grand Central Mall on Nov. 12, 2006, when Peter tested out the machine after being strapped into it by Sears employees, according to the complaint filed Nov. 14 in Wood Circuit Court. Without warning, the ankle clamp mechanism on the machine released, causing Peter to fall to the floor, the suit states. Because of his fall, Peter claims his shoulder was severely strained and sprained, an abrasion formed at the top of his head and he suffered a concussion. He also suffered generalized trauma and injury, a cervical disc herniation, a cervical facet arthropathy, occipital neuralgia causing chronic headaches, neck pain, anxiety and depression and an interruption of sleep, according to the complaint. Peter experienced great pain, suffering, inconvenience, embarrassment and humiliation, incurred substantial medical expenses, was deprived of his earnings, experienced a reduction in his earning capacity and an impairment in his general health, strength and vitality and has been unable to enjoy the various pleasures of life that he previously did, the suit states. Because of the injuries he sustained during the fall, Peter claims he has been exposed to radiation during treatments, his ability to be insured for disability coverage and life insurance has been affected by increased premiums and decreased coverage available to him and he has undergone potentially life threatening treatments. Christina has also incurred substantial medical costs and has been deprived of Peter's services, assistance and companionship, according to the complaint. Sears and Nordic Track were negligent by permitting a dangerous, unsafe and hazardous condition to exist on the Nordic Track inversion bench, by failing to properly inspect the bench to determine whether a dangerous condition existed, by failing to remedy the condition in the bench and to pull it from public sale when there was a defect, by failing to block access to the bench, by failing to warn people of the dangerous condition of the bench and by failing to install adequate warning signs notifying people not to try the bench, according to the complaint. The two companies also negligently failed to properly train employees to remove the bench because of its defects, failed to properly test the bench before placing it in the stream of commerce, marketed and sold the bench as a safe exercise machine when they should have known the ankle clamps released unexpectedly, failed to adequately warn potential users of the dangers of the bench, failed to provide post-sale warnings to users, failed to design and market the bench in a safe manner and designed and sold a product not safe for its intended use, the suit states. In the four-count suit, the Pantelidises are seeking unspecified compensatory damages, plus costs, prejudgment and post-judgment interest and other relief. Sears asked to have the complaint moved to federal court because the amount in controversy is more than $75,000 and because the parties in the suit are residents of different states. W. Michael Moore, Rita Massie Biser and Tonya P. Mullins of Moore and Biser in Charleston are representing Sears. William F. Goodrich and Steven M. Barth of Goodrich and Goodrich in Pittsburgh and James I. Stealey of Goldenberg, Goldenberg and Stealey in Parkersburg are representing the Pantelidises. U.S. District Court case number: 6:08-CV-1419

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