There's neither rhyme nor reason to many personal injury lawsuits, but one filed two years ago against the Applebee's on Dowlen Road in Beaumont, and recently continued, does have Rhymes.

Carolyn Rhymes filed a $1 million suit in Jefferson County District Court on March 27, 2015 against parent company El Chico Restaurants of Arkansas, claiming that the Dowlen Road Applebee's host leading her to her seat on May 10th of the previous year suddenly stepped backward onto her foot and made her fall.

Could Rhymes, who was 65 at the time, have been following too closely behind the host when he stepped backward, "causing her to lose her balance and fall forcefully to the ground”? That’s a possibility.

Reasonably or not, Rhymes insists that the host's employer is liable for him "failing to watch where he was walking." Again, if she was following closely enough behind for him to take one step back and land on her foot, Rhymes herself, theoretically should be liable for failing to watch where she was walking. After all, she was walking forward and he was walking backward.

Rhymes was, in essence, tailgating. She rear-ended the host. Whatever the extenuating circumstances, a motorist hitting someone from behind is almost always considered to be at fault. Perhaps the same rule of thumb should apply to pedestrians as well.

It's a wonder that the backstepping host didn't trip over Rhymes, lose his balance, and "fall forcefully to the ground," in which case the roles in court might very well be reversed, with him in the place of plaintiff and her as defendant.

That's assuming, of course, the very unlikely possibility that El Chico Restaurants would allow an Applebee's employee to sue one of its customers for what was clearly an honest, if klutzy mistake.

It's a little late, but here's a resolution for 2017: Let's stop misconstruing accidents as torts and rushing to court to try to make money off them.

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Jefferson County District Court
1085 Pearl Street
Beaumont, TX - 77701

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