Paraplegic trapped in fire files $15 million lawsuit

Invacare Corporation spokesperson declines to comment on litigation

A statue inside a Multnomah County Circuit courtroom. (KOIN/File).
A statue inside a Multnomah County Circuit courtroom. (KOIN/File).

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) – A man badly burned as a result of a fire has filed a $15 million lawsuit against Invacare HCS, LLC after he claims his wheelchair stopped working, preventing him from getting to safety.

According to the lawsuit filed last week in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Roger Robinson, who has paraplegia, alleges that his Arrow series power wheelchair, which was equipped with a MK6 Invacare joystick, stopped working during a fire that has been “windblown.” Robinson said in the lawsuit that he got the wheelchair after it was sold to the Veterans Administration in a “dangerously defective condition.”

The lawsuit does not identify where or where the fire occurred. Multiple attempts to reach Robinson’s attorney, Willard E. Merkel, have been unsuccessful.

The joystick of the wheelchair “was designed in a manner that allowed it to malfunction and cease to operate without warning to the user,” the suit claims. As a result of the “defective condition” Robinson, who is a paraplegic, was unable to escape from the fire, the lawsuit alleges.

Robinson was burned over 39% of his body with 29% of his body being third-degree burns, the lawsuit claims. The suit also states that Robinson will need more surgeries to improve scarring and skin grafts.

Lara L. Mahoney Director, Investor Relations & Corporate Communications of Invacare Corporation, said in an e-mail last Friday that “the Company does not comment on pending litigation.”

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