Trial over missed step begins in Jefferson County court

David Yates Aug. 28, 2007, 5:00pm

Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth

Yellow is a color often used to signify caution. Flo Wilson testified on Tuesday, Aug. 28 that if Christus St. Elizabeth had bothered to paint a concrete step yellow, she would have never tripped and broken her hip.

The trial of Flo and James Wilson vs. Christus Health Southeast Texas began in Judge Gary Sanderson's 60th District Court on Monday, Aug. 27 and should conclude by the end of the week.

Wilson and her husband filed a lawsuit against the hospital in 2005, claiming Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth allowed a dangerous condition to exist on its premises. The plaintiffs allege that "an unmarked and unlevel parking lot" was the proximate result of Wilson's hip injury.
According to the plaintiffs' lawsuit and testimony given during the trial, on June 8, 2005, Wilson had gone to St. Elizabeth to visit her sister-in-law. She parked her car on the second level of the hospital's parking garage, visited with her in-law, then preceded to the elevator.

Wilson testified that one of the elevators was out of service and the other elevator was taking "too long," so she decided to climb two flights of stairs to her car. When she reached the second floor, she began walking to her car but over-stepped the stairwell's landing area.

The defense argues if Wilson had been paying attention to her surroundings -- instead of possibly scanning the garage for her car -- she would have noticed the landing step.

However, when the incident occurred in 2005, the parking garage steps were unmarked. Now, all the garage's landing steps are clearly marked with a yellow stripe.

The plaintiffs argue Christus failed to "follow city and state regulations regarding the marking of uneven steps."

"If a (yellow strip) would have been there, I would have noticed (the uneven step)," Wilson said.

A local pastor, who was in the parking garage at the time of the incident, testified that, "It looked like (Wilson) had missed her step."

He added that if the step had been painted yellow, it would have probably helped stop her from falling.

Wilson is suing for past and future physical pain, mental anguish, disfigurement and impairment.

Her husband James Wilson is suing for loss of consortium and loss of household services.

The case is No. B175-570

More News