$13.3 Million Lawsuit Filed Against University of Portland

The family of a 55-year-old worker who accidentally plummeted to his death at the University of Portland’s Chiles Center has filed a $13.3 million lawsuit against the university.

The lawsuit states that on Sept. 22, 2014, Thomas Charles “TC” Smith Jr. was using a Genie Personal Lift machine – provided by the university – to reach lights and speakers high above a stage. The lift tipped over, causing him to fall to the gym floor and hit his head, according to the suit filed last week in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

Smith died in hospice more than three months later, according to The Oregonian.

The suit faults the university for allegedly keeping the 30-year-old lift in poor repair, providing it to be used without outrigger supports to prevent tipping, and allowing Smith to use it without proper training. The suit also faults defendant Genie Industries, the Washington company that manufactured the lift, for its design.

Both a university spokeswoman and a Genie Industries spokeswoman said Monday that they could not comment on pending litigation.

The university hired Smith’s company, ShowDrape, to prepare the gym for the inauguration of the new university president, Mark Poorman, according to the suit. Smith was co-owner of ShowDrape.

The lawsuit seeks $2.5 million for Smith’s pain and suffering before his death, $846,600 in medical expenses, and millions more for his family’s loss of society, companionship and services. Smith is survived by his wife, three adult children and his mother.