Woman falls while jumping from burning trolley car, seeks $1M from city

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Jul 21, 2009

GALVESTON – An East Texas woman is suing the city of Galveston and its public transportation system for $1 million in damages after she was injured while disembarking a burning trolley car.

Kerri Johnson of Mount Enterprise claims that on July 22, 2007, she was riding a trolley in Galveston with her husband, Marx, and their infant child.

According to the complaint filed July 20, the trolley operated by city-run Island Transit caught fire and had to be evacuated.

However, court papers allege the trolley did not have any portable steps for passengers to use in an emergency.

"Normally, at regularly scheduled stops, the egress to and from the trolley is assisted by an elevated riser which makes it easier and safer for passengers to enter and exit the vehicle," the original petition states.

"This particular stop, while unplanned, was eminently foreseeable, and the trolley operator should have had a portable step to place on the ground in order for the passengers to safely exit the vehicle."

Plaintiffs Kerri and Marx Johnson argue that Kerri was forced to carry the baby while attempting to leave the trolley.

"When she reached the last step on the vehicle, there was too much distance to the ground for her to safely leave the vehicle and she fell backwards, sustaining personal injuries," the suit says.

It is unclear whether the child was also harmed.

Kerri Johnson claims her reported injuries rendered her unable to work and perform household tasks, thus she has suffered mental anguish and a loss of enjoyment of life.

Marx Johnson is also seeking compensation for damages due to his wife's injuries.

Houston attorney Lennon C. Wright is representing the Johnsons, and the case has been assigned to Galveston County 122nd District Court Judge John Ellisor.

Case No. 09CV1253

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