Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Balcony Collapse at University of North Texas Produces Severe Injuries

The Grove at Denton, Texas

Reports in the mainstream press have indicated that three men recovered nicely from injuries sustained when a balcony collapsed at a student-housing complex near the University of North Texas.

The public was left with the impression that the injuries at The Grove apartments in Denton, Texas, were relatively minor. But a blog post from a Houston law firm indicates those impressions are way off base.

In a post titled "'Good Condition' in HospitalSpeak vs. Actual Good Condition," the law firm Denena and Points reports that the three men suffered a total of 11 broken bones. One man had his ankles broken so severely that he might lose both feet. Another will need reconstructive surgery on his face and will have his jaw wired shut for months. Another had a ruptured bladder.

The apartments in question are owned by Campus Crest Communities, a Charlotte-based company headed by Ted Rollins. Campus Crest and Rollins have been the subjects of numerous posts here at Legal Schnauzer, largely because of the CEO's involvement in a divorce case that unlawfully was removed from South Carolina to Alabama and resulted in a monstrous cheat job for Sherry Carroll Rollins, Ted's ex wife and the mother of his two daughters.

How bad was the cheat job administered by Shelby County Circuit Judge D. Al Crowson, apparently with the assistance of Ted Rollins' Birmingham-based corporate law firm, Bradley Arant? Ted Rollins, who belongs to one of the nation's wealthiest family, pays the grand sum of $815 a month in child support. That means his daughters, Sarah and Emma, are on food stamps in Alabama.

Ted Rollins (second from right) and
the Campus Crest management team
We repeatedly have sent written questions via e-mail to Ted Rollins, seeking comment about the fact that his ex wife and daughters have been forced to go on food stamps. He has refused to respond--even though he repeatedly has said he would be "more than happy" to answer written questions--and we've seen no signs that he has taken steps to make sure his family members do not need food stamps.

If Ted Rollins apparently does not care about his own flesh and blood, should the public expect him to care about the young people who rent apartments at the roughly 30 Grove complexes around the country? Should we expect Ted Rollins to even care about people who have been severely injured at one of his properties?

Probably not.

An early response from Campus Crest hinted that it was the victims' fault for standing on a decorative balcony that was not designed to bear the weight of three adults--even though a fully functioning door led directly onto the balcony.

Campus Crest seemingly has been happy to let the public believe that the three men were not seriously hurt. But the Houston law blog paints a different story. A hospital spokesman at the time listed the men in "good condition." If that was the case, I would hate to hear about someone who was in "poor condition."

Here are the injuries, as reported by the Houston law blog:

Grant Draper:
Broken pelvis,
Broken wrist,
2 broken ankles,
Broken bone close to the hip,
Landed on the balls of his feet which burst through the skin and detached the protective fat pads, and
May lose both feet at the ankles if the tissue does not heal and reconnect properly.

Garrett Draper:
Fell face first on a car below,
Sent into a drug-induced coma and intubated because of the severity of his facial injuries,
Broken jaw,
Fractured teeth,
Broken cheek,
Facial lacerations,
Will have jaw wired shut for months,
Will need reconstructive surgery on his face,
Will likely need dental reconstruction,
Broken pelvis,
Broken arm,
Broken ankle,
Collapsed lung, and
Had rod inserted in hip to stabilize joint.

Tony Garcia:
Broken pelvis, and
Ruptured bladder.

It hurts just to read that. I wondered how Ted Rollins would feel after reading it, so I sent him a copy and asked for his response. He had his PR outfit send the official Campus Crest response:

Our thoughts and prayers remain with the individuals and their families. The safety and well being of our residents and guests that visit our properties is our top priority and concern. We have taken proactive measures to ensure nothing like this happens again. We wish the individuals a full recovery.

Meanwhile, the Houston law blog has taught me to look at hospital condition reports in a different light:

Hospitals see all the worst injuries and illnesses every single day. "Non-life threatening injuries" simply means that the person probably won't die. "Good condition" seems to mean that the person probably won't die and that no unexpected complications have sprung from treatments and surgeries. But these terms clearly don't imply "good" or "non threatening" in the sense in which we usually use them.

So next time you come across these bland injury descriptions, you may think about the possible severity of the pain, suffering and depth of injury the accident victims may have suffered. These innocuous phrases: non-life threatening injuries and good condition, don't rule out permanent disfigurement or disability. They don't rule out crippling injuries. They don't rule out permanent organ damage. They only rule out the immediate prospect of death.


Anonymous said...

Sarah and Emma are REALLY going to be on food stamps legitimately when the families of these folks get through with Rollins..

I can't said I will feel sorry for him after what he has done to his children.

What goes around comes around.
This story is terribly sad.

legalschnauzer said...

If Ted Rollins has any sense as a businessman--and that's a big "if"--he was adequately insured for this kind of event.

My guess is that insurers will try to quietly settle this so that CC can move on to other projects.

jeffrey spruill said...

Expect another email from Uncle Ted's running dog at Poyner Spruill!

coleinglaw said...

Looks like Kevin Roden stepped up to prevent Teddy from putting up any more of these phony balconies according to the latest article by the Houston personal injury attorneys originally mentioned in this piece.