Patti Browning fell down and had to blame somebody

The SE Texas Record Oct. 8, 2011, 4:14am

We haven't done a survey of sidewalks from state to state or town to town, but we suspect that the ones in Galveston are about average: relatively straight and flat, neither the best nor the worst that one's likely to encounter.

The sidewalks have to be better than those in New Orleans, particularly along St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District and Uptown, where the protruding roots of live oaks that line the street have turned the sidewalks into a shambles.

The whole town may be below sea level, but some sidewalks there are so craggy that they would challenge a mountain goat. No one seems to mind, though, because it's been that way for decades. Repairs would be costly and time-consuming and doomed to fail, and the blocks of buckled concrete do add a bit of charm.

Patti Browning wouldn't be safe there. She has trouble negotiating the unchallenging sidewalks of Galveston and seems to think that someone should precede her along every pedestrian pathway, scanning the surfaces for minute irregularities and maybe scattering rose petals before her feet.

Browning sued Todd Slaughter and the city of Galveston after tripping on the sidewalk in front of Slaughter's Avenue M residence on a December evening in 2008. Browning was one of several guests at Slaughter's house that night and had gone out to the street to put her purse in her car.

She claimed to have injured her knees and elbows after falling from a shallow step along the sidewalk that was "inconspicuous in the darkness."

In the suit she filed two years later, Browning blamed Slaughter for inadequate lighting and failure to warn of the hazard.

Just last month, Galveston County District Court Judge Wayne Malia granted Slaughter's motion for summary judgment, agreeing with the defendant that there was no evidence of premises liability or gross negligence.

Maybe Browning should try her luck in New Orleans, where the sidewalks are a real hazard.

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