Carolyn Rhymes's all-expenses-paid 'trip'

By The SE Texas Record | Apr 24, 2017

Carolyn Rhymes got roughly one fifth of the settlement she sought from the Applebee's on Dowlen Road in Beaumont, but it could be more than she deserved.

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.

In an editorial devoted to the case this past January, we wondered if Rhymes, who was 65 at the time of the incident, may have been following too closely behind the host when he stepped backward, in which case he would not have been entirely responsible, if at all, for "causing her to lose her balance and fall forcefully to the ground."

Rhymes insisted that the host's employer was liable for him "failing to watch where he was walking." On the other hand, we argued, if she was following closely enough behind for him to take one step back and land on her foot, Rhymes herself should be liable for failing to watch where she was walking. After all, since she was following him, it was much easier for her to see where he was ahead of her than it was for him to guess where she was behind him. It seems possible that she could adjust her pace and the space between them -- and stop in time, block his reverse motion, or step backward to avoid a collision.

Apparently, the Jefferson County jury drew some similar conclusions, finding Rhymes half responsible for the accident, awarding her only $192,000 of the million she wanted.

The defendant argued that Rhymes's negligence was entirely to blame for her injury and noted that her insurance would have mitigated her medical expenses had she bothered to invoke it.

Why she didn't, we don't know, but Rhymes must have had her reasons.

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