In an ongoing Orange County lawsuit, a construction company recently denied that it was in any way responsible for a woman's fall at a residential facility.

On Nov. 18, 2004, Brenda Richardson says she slipped and fell on a patch of mud at the Heritage Center of Orange. She claimed the mud on the premises of the apartment facility for the elderly and disabled was left behind by Michael Moore Renovation and Restoration.

In 2005, Richardson hired Reaud, Morgan & Quinn attorney Trent Bond and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Heritage Center and Moore Renovation, charging them with negligence for failing "to provide adequate signs" warning pedestrians that mud, if stepped in, could cause a person to slip and fall.

With several depositions already submitted in the case, the suit came up again on July 20 for a hearing before Orange County District Judge Pat Clark.

Moore claims it is "not in any way guilty of any negligence on the occasion in question, but that Brenda Richardson and Heritage Center were at all times pertinent hereto guilty of certain acts or omissions."

The defendant says that Richardson was negligent for failing to maintain proper lookout and pay attention to the sidewalk. In addition, Heritage was negligent for maintaining the premises in a safe condition.

Richardson and Heritage are "the sole and proximate cause of plaintiff's damages, if any," the court document states.

The company also says it sent a letter to all residents to notify them of the renovation work being done.

Michael Moore Renovation and Restoration is now filing a cross action over and against Heritage Center.

According to a deposition, the incident in the mud in November 2004 was not Richardson's first fall at Heritage Center.

On April 4, 2004, the resident said she tripped on a rug in front of the mailboxes in the center's lobby and fell. The rug, she alleges, was old and worn and did not lie flat � creating a trip hazard.

Richardson said in the Feb. 24, 2006, deposition that she suffers from continuous back, neck and head pain since the fall in the lobby.

Another resident of Heritage Center, Celestine Morris, also said in a deposition that she too had fallen in the mud in 2004.

Morris said that it had been raining on Nov. 2, 2004, and that she was going to get her mail when she slipped in the mud near the construction area. The fall left her with a broken arm that still causes her pain when cooking or trying to lift objects, Morris said.

Morris has also filed a lawsuit and is also represented by Trent Bond.

In her deposition to Heritage's defense attorney Craig Wolcott, Morris said she knew Brenda Richardson from Heritage Center, but the two did not really talk to each other and did not discuss filing lawsuits. Morris admitted, however, that the two had a mutual friend who also resided at the complex.

Judge Clark set a timeline for the parties to schedule mediation on Oct. 15 or be ready for trial by Nov. 13.

Case No. A050394-c

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