Local News in Brief : Jury Awards $1.73 Million to Guard Who Fell Into Trench

A Burbank Superior Court jury awarded $1.732 million in damages Friday to a Bellflower man who, as a security guard for Lockheed-California Co. in 1980, fell into a trench after entering a building that was being remodeled.

The general contractor for the project, Carl W. Johnson Co. of Burbank, was ordered to pay the award. James E. Siepler, attorney for the company, called the award excessive and said that the company plans to ask that the verdict be overturned.

The plaintiff, Thomas Paine, 34, was on patrol at Lockheed’s Burbank plant on the evening of Feb. 20, 1980, when he discovered an unlocked door to a building being remodeled by the defendant, according to Paine’s attorney, Kenneth L. Powell.

Paine entered the building to secure the door from the inside, and, as he walked toward a rear exit, he fell into a six-foot trench that had been dug for piping, Powell said. The construction company had not notified Lockheed workers of the danger and had failed to lock the door, the attorney said.

Powell said Paine suffered severe lower back injuries that required two operations and kept him from working. Paine is now unemployed and suffers leg pain when he walks, Powell said.