Volunteer Receives Hefty Payout For Tripping On Rug
Callie Barras will receive a $300,000 payout from the City of Myrtle Beach because she tripped on a rug at the Myrtle Beach’s Base Recreation Center, which located at 800 Gabreski Lane, near The Market Common, and includes a ballroom, a stage, and several meeting rooms. Billiards, horseshoes and table tennis are also available for free to patrons, making it a popular and busy destination. Barras was a volunteer at the center at the time of the accident, so she was frequently helping out on site.
According to Barras, she had advised others at the center the rug could potentially be a hazard, but it was never taken away. On April 8, 2015, she tripped and fell, receiving a concussion, a black eye and back and neck issues that will require ongoing treatment. She filed a lawsuit that ended up going to trial. “Despite having been informed of this potentially dangerous situation, defendant refused to remove the rugs,” the lawsuit stated.
On July 5th, two days after the document was evaluated and electronically signed, the judge awarded her the hefty payout, which was actually reduced from the jury’s original payout May 17th of $547,128 in compliance with the Torts Claims Act. The Act caps awards received in such matters. However, Barras’ attorney, Mark Nappier, said the city plans to appeal. On July 17, sure enough, the attorney for the City filed a notice of appeal in reference to the judge’s orders and rulings, court records showed. The appeal process could take up to a year.
Personal injury attorney George Sink Jr. commented on the case, stating a large number of similar claims are not determined by a jury trial. “There’s so much case law about premises liability and personal injury cases,” he said, which makes it difficult to determine who is at fault and whether the injured party should receive a payout. Sink adds that it is also difficult to successfully sue a governmental entity, which has certain protections under the Tort Claims Act.
The two main components for determining fault in a premises liability claim generally are: 1) Whether or not the property owner acted reasonably to prevent a dangerous condition, and; 2) Whether or not the injured party was exceedingly careless. Basically, for the injured person to have a strong case, the property owner must have known about the hazardous condition and been negligent in remedying it. Some common scenarios are uneven stairs, unstable brick pavers, food items spilled on grocery store floors, and improperly de-iced entry ways.
“There were several witnesses that testified that they had been complaining that there had been a problem with the mats … and they didn’t do anything to correct the hazard,” Nappier said. The multitude of testimony proving the rug was an ongoing issue ultimately allowed for the jury to side with Barras, and the judge to uphold this decision.
Mark Kruea, the City’s spokesperson, said the party is insured for civil claim payouts. Barras also settled separately with Alsco, Inc., the rug’s supplier, for $20,000.