Injury at temporary church leads to suit against funeral home

David Yates Apr. 17, 2007, 4:00pm

Following destruction of their church by Hurricane Rita, members turned to a funeral home for a place to gather for worship and meetings.

On her way to a service in 2005, one church member, Mary Francois Lee, tripped over a concrete barrier in the parking lot and has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the funeral home.

According to Lee's lawsuit, which was filed with the Jefferson County District Court on April 16, Mercy Funeral Home should have known that the parking lot had insufficient illumination. The plaintiff claims Mercy is negligent for failing to warn people of the dangerous condition and failing to remedy the risk of harm and she is seeking damages in the amount of $200,000.

Mercy had permitted Lee and the congregation to use its facility as temporary church and meeting place after Hurricane Rita destroyed their previous sanctuary.

"Plaintiff was an invitee at the time of the injury. She had the defendant's permission on Dec. 20, 2005, to attend a meeting to discuss the rebuilding of plaintiff's church," the petition said, adding that because the defendant allowed her and the rest of the congregation to hold their church services at its place of business, Mercy had a duty to warn her that she could trip over a slab of concrete.

"While plaintiff was visiting the funeral home for a meeting, she suddenly tripped and fell violently and unexpectedly on a concrete parking barrier in the parking lot," the petition said. "She suffered severe multiple her arms, shoulders and body."

As a result of Mercy's alleged negligence, Lee has suffered disabling injuries and incurred necessary expense for medical, nursing and hospital care, the petition stated.

Lee is demanding a trial by jury. She is represented by Houston attorney Gregory Allen.

Cause No. D179-120

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