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A rural Valparaiso man and his wife won a $3.7 million jury verdict April 30 against a shopping mall owner and its maintenance firm for a brain injury the man suffered in a fall.

Richard Proctor, 46, and his wife, Sonia, 42, won the $3.696 million verdict in St. Joseph Superior Court Judge David Chapleau's court.

Northwest Indiana personal injury attorney Kenneth J. Allen, whose law firm represented the Proctors, hopes the large jury verdict will prompt the defendants to "take safety seriously" and implement "preventative measures which would have prevented this occurrence in the first place."

The verdict was for the injuries Proctor suffered Jan. 30, 2007, after falling from a ladder at University Park Mall in Mishawaka. The verdict was against mall owner Simon Property Management and its maintenance company, Varsity Contractors.

Proctor was sent by his employer, Edward's Mechanical, to service heating/air conditioning equipment on the mall's roof. But Proctor fell 19 feet from a roof hatch ladder that Allen said failed to meet safety codes.

Proctor suffered a skull fracture, brain trauma, a broken shoulder and a broken thumb in the fall.

"We are very, very thankful," Sonia Proctor said in a statement released through her attorney.

"This (verdict) will provide for all Rich's future medical needs."

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