By David Baugher
BridgeTower Media Newswires
RALEIGH, NC — A Union County jury has awarded $250,000 to a Marshville woman who was struck by a car while viewing Christmas lights.
Adrienne Blocker of DeMayo Law Offices in Charlotte said that her client, Marilyn Ridnouer, was viewing holiday decorations in Monroe while walking with a group during a home tour event when a vehicle operated by Howard John Heda ran into her, sending her flying through the air.
“We argued that Mr. Heda knew about the event going on in the neighborhood,” Blocker said. “His home was between two of the houses on the tour. He’d seen people walking.”
Blocker said that the 2017 incident left her client with injuries including a torn rotator cuff and a broken leg that required implantation of a metal rod. No medical special damages were alleged, and the case was argued strictly on pain and suffering.
The defense’s answer to Ridnouer’s complaint argued that she bore some responsibility for her injuries because she’d been walking facing away from traffic and “failed to walk only on the extreme left of the roadway.”
Blocker acknowledged that her client wasn’t on a sidewalk but said she was wearing a bright yellow jacket and should have been fully visible to any reasonably attentive driver.
“There were no sidewalks in the neighborhood, so she couldn’t walk on the sidewalk, which would have been the preferred place to do it,” she said.
Blocker said that the impact occurred at a low speed, and an accident reconstruction expert testified in the case regarding reactions, stopping time, and the possibility of swerving around the plaintiff.
The defense attorney, Ken Raynor of Raynor Law Firm in Charlotte, said there was little dispute over the extent of injury, and much of the case dealt with the issue of who had the “last clear chance” to avoid the crash since plaintiffs are usually barred from recovery if contributory negligence can be established.
On its verdict sheet, jurors indicated that Ridnouer’s negligence did in part contribute to her injuries. But the jury also found that Heda had the last clear chance to avoid the impact, which meant that it could still award damages to Ridnouer.
Raynor said that the case was a difficult situation.
“It is a tough case for the defendant just because the testimony was that my client never saw the plaintiff at all before he hit her,” Raynor said.