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Man maimed in estate sale can sue

Arno Schumann will have his say in court after all.

On Feb. 9, 1993, while visiting an estate sale, Schumann lost his right thumb while testing a circular saw he considered buying.

Citing negligence, Schumann filed suit against the estate of Leondos Burl Crossman and the estate's personal representative, Hazel Weathers.

Circuit Judge John Thurman threw out the suit and left Schumann, who lives in Arkansas, no means to amend it. Thurman's reason: The suit was faulty because only Ms. Weathers could be held liable for what happened when Schumann picked up the saw.

Schumann, who sought more than $15,000 in damages, appeared to be out of luck. But now the 5th District Court of Appeal has come to his rescue.

Under Florida law, an estate may be held liable for torts committed by its personal representative while he or she is administering the estate, Judge Jacqueline R. Griffin wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel from the court. If the personal representative is at fault, the estate can file a claim against him or her.

Schumann said the saw backed up and cut off his thumb at the first joint while he was testing the tool on a piece of wood. He said Ms. Weathers knew or should have known that the saw had a tendency to back up, or that the guard was malfunctioning; he also said Ms. Weathers should have warned him of such dangers.

With the appellate court's decision, he and his attorneys may go back to court and pursue the claim.