Tenant Suffers Spinal Injury Due to House Fire


Our client, Christa Assad, rented a room in a home in Berkeley from Hans Winold. Mr. Winold enjoyed riding electric skateboards and created his own rechargeable lithium ion battery packs. One night, as he often did, he left one of his battery packs charging near Ms. Assad’s room. It caught fire and set fire to the house. Ms. Assad, in an effort to escape from the smoke and flames, ran to the back deck and dropped herself over the balcony, which was on the second floor of the home. She landed awkwardly and suffered a spinal compression fracture as she hit the ground.


Ms. Assad immediately underwent a spinal fusion surgery and two additional surgeries several months later – one to remove her hardware and another to debride her infected wounds. She was hospitalized for several weeks and underwent months of physical therapy and acupuncture. Today, she continues to suffer from pain, weakness, and impaired mobility.

Ms. Assad is a distinguished ceramicist with a Master’s in Fine Arts degree. She has taught ceramics and had her work featured in publications and galleries all over the world. Tragically, she can no longer work with clay, because the work is too strenuous and painful for her compromised back. She is, however, reinventing herself and enjoying some success as an artist in different, less physically demanding media.


Plaintiffs settled with defendants before trial for a total of $875,000.

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