A Baltimore Circuit Court jury deliberated just over an hour yesterday before awarding a Woodlawn man more than $6.2 million for injuries suffered in a 1999 accident that caused him to go blind.
Kojo Oseitutu, 58, won the judgment against Grimes Tire Service.
The incident happened May 18, 1999, as Oseitutu was putting a truck wheel on a chassis, said one of his attorneys, Bernard J. Sevel. "The truck wheel exploded, throwing the wheel into him, causing severe head fractures, brain damage, rendering him totally blind and also depriving him of his sense of smell and taste," he said.
Grimes, located near the Dundalk Marine Terminal, had a contract to mount tires on rims and deliver them to Seagirt Marine Terminal where Oseitutu worked, Sevel said.
"What went wrong was they mounted a new tire on a very old, very rusted rim and locking ring," Sevel said. "The rim and ring were corroded and dirty, so the two surfaces didn't properly mate. Therefore, when Mr. Oseitutu went to install the wheel onto the chassis, the ring let go and the release of pressure threw the wheel into his face."
Oseitutu, a divorced man with grown children, spent more than five weeks at Maryland Shock Trauma Center before being transferred to Kernan Hospital, where he underwent rehabilitation for an extended period, Sevel said. "Then, of course, he had to go through all of the different training to learn how to live essentially on his own," he said.
The trial lasted a week, with the three-man, three-woman jury returning with a damage award slightly higher than Sevel and co-counsel Gerald F. Gay had sought.