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$6M verdict upheld in logging accident

| Wednesday, May 9, 2012, 2:06 a.m.

The state Supreme Court has denied an appeal of a jury verdict awarding $6 million to a Jefferson County man who was paralyzed in a 1999 logging accident.

Melvin White of Punxsutawney also will receive delayed damages of $758,684 for the accident, which left him a paraplegic.

The justices denied the appeal in a one-page opinion handed down Wednesday.

The case was tried in Westmoreland County in March 2003 even though the accident occurred in Indiana County where the defendants, Wenturine Brothers Lumber, of Nicktown, Cambria County, and American Forestry Consultants, of Tunnelton, were doing a logging operation.

White had cut down a tree while he was standing in a safety zone. A maple tree fell on him, causing spinal injuries that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

The lawsuit charged that Wenturine, which owned the lumber and the land, had built a roadway to the site by excavating the property. White's attorneys argued that the excavation weakened the root system of the tree, causing it to fall on White.

After the trial, White sought delayed damages that were awarded by Westmoreland County Judge Gary Caruso in July 2003.

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