Second suit filed against hospital over automatic doors

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Feb. 18, 2009, 5:29pm

Christus St. Michael

TEXARKANA – Using a walker, Violet Parvin claims she was leaving the Professional Office Building at St. Michael Hospital in Texarkana when the electronic sliding doors malfunctioned and suddenly closed. Court papers say the doors hit Parvin and she fell to the ground.

The Nashville, Ark., resident filed the personal injury suit against Christus St. Michael Health System on Feb. 17 in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

According to the suit, Parvin and her daughter were leaving the medical office building following a doctor's appointment when the doors malfunctioned. Parvin fell and claims she sustained injuries to her head, neck, elbow, knees, wrist and hip. She states she continues to have problems with her vision and breathing.

A nurse and another St. Michael's employee offered assistance to Parvin and emergency personnel were called but, according to the lawsuit, failed to respond in a timely manner. The suit states that one of the nurses had to run over to the hospital emergency department to retrieve help for Parvin.

The lawsuit alleges the electronic doors presented a dangerous condition and an unreasonable risk of harm.

Further, the plaintiff states the defendant is negligent for failing to repair or remove the malfunctioning doors, failing to properly maintain and inspect doors, failing to determine durability and function ability of the doors, and for failure to warn of the unsafe condition.

The complaint also states, "Although events similar to the one that caused the plaintiff's injuries had previously occurred, defendant failed to take any corrective action to prevent a recurrence of the problem."

In 2005, another woman fell and was injured after the electronic doors allegedly closed on her. The family of Daisy Ora Duckett filed suit against the hospital in 2008 in the Circuit Court of Miller County, Ark.

The case was removed recently to federal court but then remanded after the judge found the plaintiff was not seeking damages higher than $75,000, a requirement for federal court.

The hospital denied the family's allegations and argued contributory negligence on Duckett's part.

The hospital has not yet responded to Parvin's allegations.

Parvin is seeking damages for medical care and expenses, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, anxiety, pain and illness, physical impairment, loss of household services and cost of medical monitoring and prevention.

The plaintiff is represented by Texarkana attorneys J. David Crisp and Kelley Gossett Crisp of the Crisp and Freeze law firm.

U.S. District Judge David Folsom has referred the case to Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven for proceedings.

Case No 5:2009cv00023

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