Funeral home, injured plaintiff reach settlement

David Yates Feb. 27, 2008, 4:38am

Following destruction of their church by Hurricane Rita, members turned to Mercy 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.

As The Record reported last April, Lee filed a personal injury lawsuit against Mercy in the Jefferson County District Court, claiming the nursing home negligently failed to warn people of the dangerous lack of lighting in its parking lot.

She was seeking $200,000 in damages.

On Feb. 20 Mercy and Lee settled. Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th Judicial District, had been presiding over the case and approved a Take Nothing Judgment.

"Lee and Mercy � through their respective attorneys announced to the Court that matters in controversy herein have been compromised and settled and the Plaintiff should take nothing by reason of this suit and Defendant shall have judgment," the signed order stated.

The settlement amount was not disclosed.

According to Lee's lawsuit, which was filed with on April 16, 2007, Mercy Funeral Home should have known that the parking lot had insufficient illumination.

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 suffered disabling injuries and incurred necessary expense for medical, nursing and hospital care, the petition stated.

Lee was represented by Houston attorney Gregory Allen.

Mercy was represented by David Klosterboer & Associates.

Case No. D179-120

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