HOUSTON (CN) – A professional para-racer says he suffered a career-damaging eye injury when a handicapped grab bar in a Lowe’s Home Center bathroom ripped off the stall as he grabbed it and he banged his head against a toilet.
John Barker sued Lowe’s Home Centers in Federal Court.
Barker says he is a successful para-racer with “a number of large corporate sponsors that support him in his racing.”
Barker became paralyzed in 2005 when a burglar shot him and then threw him out of a second-story of his mother’s house and he fell 26 feet and was impaled on a picket fence. His spinal cord was severed and he has been paralyzed from the waist down ever since.
Barker began para-racing in 2006, and turned pro in 2008. He says he went to a Lowe’s store while visiting friends in Macedonia, Ohio on Aug. 19 this year.
“While at the store, he needed to visit the restroom facilities and went into a handicapped-assemblage toilet stall,” according to the complaint.
The Americans with Disabilities Act sets standards for bathroom stalls, Barker says, including requirements for toilet stall grab bars. “The handicapped bar is critical for individuals like Mr. Barker since they have no use of their legs.
“Mr. Barker was lifting himself utilizing the grab bar when, without warning, the grab bar ripped from the partition wall causing Mr. Barker to fall and violently strike his head on the commode.
“A young boy found Mr. Barker on the floor bleeding and unconscious. The boy alerted his parents and paramedics were called to assist Mr. Barker,” according to the complaint.
Barker says he was taken to a hospital and diagnosed with a concussion, and was to see his doctor when he got home about blurred vision in his right eye.
“Upon returning home to Houston, Mr. Barker, as recommended, did in fact see his general practitioner, who sent him to a Board Certified specialist who told Mr. Barker the optical nerve in his right eye suffered a very serious and significant injury that showed no signs of improving. This same diagnosis was made by other eye specialists who have also examined Mr. Baker,” he says.
Barker says he has been told his vision will not improve.
“Mr. Barker is a professional athlete who requires excellent vision to both train and competitively race for his financial livelihood. The impact of this injury on Mr. Barker’s life, both personally and professionally, is severe,” according to the complaint.
Barker seeks damages for negligence, pain and suffering, lost earnings, disfigurement, physical impairment, medical expenses, loss of consortium and loss of household services.
He is represented by Gregory Godkin with Roberts Markel.