York man, blinded by fall, wins $4 million lawsuit

David Weissman
  • Bill Waite, of Springettsbury Township, was blinded after falling down a step outside a York Township shopping center.
  • A York County Court of Common Pleas jury awarded Waite $4 million in his lawsuit against the property owner.
  • Waite alleged the single step along the outside of the center was not clearly marked and posed a danger.

A single step along the walkway of a small shopping center in York Township has led to what might be one of the largest financial awards ever granted in a York County injury lawsuit.

This sidewalk outside a York Township shopping center contains a single unmarked step. Bill Waite fell down the step and struck a chair, which blinded him. A jury awarded Waite $4 million.

Bill Waite, of Springettsbury Township, was awarded $4 million last week, more than four years after tripping over the unmarked step left the now-84-year-old man blinded.

According to a pretrial memo, Waite had traveled to the shopping center at 2861 E. Prospect Road in July 2012 to visit Steinmetz Coins and Currency.

As he left, Waite walked along the sidewalk of the center, falling down the lone step of an otherwise level walkway and striking his left eye against a chair that sat outside a tattoo shop, according to the memo.

Since Waite had had little to no functional eyesight in his right eye for many years, the injury left him effectively blind, according to Craig Milsten, his attorney.

Vindicated: Milsten said he knew they had a case against the property owner, Argento Family Partnership, when Waite's son showed him a picture of the step, which is not marked in any way to alert pedestrians.

Barry Kronthal, the property owner's attorney, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The property was sold to 334 Hospitality LLC in January 2016, according to York County assessment records, but Milsten said the step remains unmarked.

Waite, who retired from Graham Architectural Products, did not want to discuss the case but said he wished the incident had never happened and he hoped the money would make life easier for his wife.

Milsten said the result was the most satisfying of his 20-year law career because he admired Waite and was proud of the way the justice system vindicated him. The $4 million is the largest sum he's ever seen granted from an injury lawsuit in the county, he added.

Milsten said the jury rightly saw by the end of the four-day trial in York County Common Pleas Court how seriously blindness affected his client.

Waite's primary passions were golfing, playing with his dog and spending time with his family, which includes three children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, two of whom were born since he went blind, Milsten said.

Milsten said Waite told him family gatherings now feel like he's "sitting in a dark closet listening to people on the outside."

The case was previously thrown out, but Waite won an appeal in the state Superior Court to bring it to trial, Milsten said.

Special tie: The trial holds special meaning for Milsten because he wore the tie of a former colleague, Jim Greenberg, during three of the four days.

Greenburg died about two years ago, and his wife gave some of his ties to his co-workers at KBG Injury Law, and Milsten said he was saving the one he received for a special occasion.

The occasion turned out to be Waite's trial, Milsten said, because Greenburg was always passionate about advocating for "the little guy."

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.