Decof, Barry, Mega & Quinn Wins $32M for Iraq War Veteran Left Paralyzed after a Swimming Accident at the University of Rhode Island

On Thursday, May 31, 2018, a Providence County, Rhode Island Superior Court jury awarded Iraq War veteran Brett A. Smith and his wife, Stacie M. Smith, of Farmington, Connecticut, over $32 million in compensation for a 2014 swimming accident at a lakefront commercial property at the University of Rhode Island’s Alton Jones campus. The accident left Mr. Smith paralyzed from the chest down and with limited use of his hands.

Attorney Patrick C. Barry of the Decof, Barry, Mega & Quinn law firm, located in Providence, successfully argued to the jury that URI was negligent for failing to post signs warning visitors not to swim in Louttit Pond the weekend of July 25, 2014. Staff had informed the couple and other guests, who were attending a wedding at Whispering Pines Conference Center, that swimming was permitted. Mr. Smith struck his head on a submerged rock while swimming underwater.

The trial lasted three weeks and the jury deliberated for about 8 hours before delivering its verdict that URI was negligent and awarding $28.77 million to Brett and $3.37 million to his wife. $18 million of the award is for past, present and future pain and suffering, with $5 million toward future medical care, home renovation and equipment expenses. Additional damages were awarded for lost earnings, lost household services and past medical expenses.

For more details about the Smith v. The University of Rhode Island, et al. case, visit Providence Journal at

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