Attorney blames hotel ashtray for loss of finger

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jul. 21, 2008, 11:00am

Pool area of the Moody Gardens Hotel in Galveston

GALVESTON – An overflowing ashtray at a Galveston hotel caused a Hill Country attorney to fall and sever one of his fingers, the lawyer claims in a recent lawsuit.

Joe Grady Tuck of Bastrop alleges Moody Gardens Inc. and Moody Gardens Hotel are responsible for a messy walkway and failed to give warnings of the unsafe condition that could have prevented the loss of one of his digits during his visit.

Tuck is acting as his own attorney in the lawsuit against the Galveston non-profit organization and its premier resort. He filed the lawsuit July 18 in Galveston County District Court.

Court papers say Tuck was a guest at the Moody Gardens Hotel on July 22, 2006, when he was injured as a result of a quantity of ashtray sand reportedly spilled along the pavement between the parking area and the facility.

The suit alleges Tuck was standing near a piece of furniture just as it gave way to the floor. The sand exacerbated his loss of balance.

"During the time that plaintiff was upon defendants' property, plaintiff was seriously injured when a wooden table against which plaintiff was leaning, collapsed causing plaintiff to fall, catching his right middle finger between he floor and table ultimately resulting in the amputation of his right middle finger," the original petition says.

The lawsuit further explains that the hotel knew about the sand's presence, but did not do anything to remove it.

"Defendant breached the duty of ordinary care by failing to inspect the walkway from the parking area where a quantity of sand was present as a result of a spill from a cylindrical ashtray located on the sideway," it says.

In addition to his amputated finger, Tuck "was caused to suffer from anxiety, pain and illness," the suit states.

Tuck seeks damages including but not limited to past and future medical care and expenses, physical impairment, and loss of earning figures and capacity.

Tuck requested a jury trial, which will be heard in the 212th District Court.

The case has been assigned to Judge Susan Criss.

Case No. 08CV0766

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