A woman who said she tripped on a rug at Myrtle Beach’s Base Recreation Center has been awarded a $300,000 civil judgment against the city.
The judgment was set by a judge on July 5. But her attorney, Mark Nappier, said that the city’s representation has said they plan to appeal. Mark Kruea, a spokesman for the city, declined to comment on pending litigation.
Callie Barras, a citizen of Georgetown County, said in a lawsuit filed in January 2016 that she was a volunteer at the recreation center at 800 Gabreski Lane, near The Market Common.
According to the suit, Barras advised people at the center that the rug could be a hazard, but it was never removed. Then, on April 8, 2015, she tripped on it, resulting in a fall. She had a concussion, a black eye and neck and back issues that required ongoing treatment, Nappier said.
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The case eventually went to trial.
“There were several witnesses that testified that they had been complaining that there had been a problem with the mats … and they didn’t do anything to correct the hazard,” Nappier said.
A jury originally awarded Barras $547,128, but it was reduced to $300,000 by judge Larry B. Hyman, Jr., in accordance with statutory caps on the amount of such judgments.
Kruea said the city is insured for civil claim payouts.
Personal injury attorney George Sink Jr., said that the vast majority of cases are not determined by a jury trial. There’s so much case law about premises liability and personal injury cases, he said, that it’s usually clear who’s at fault and how to settle the matter.
Sink declined to comment on the specific details of Barras’ case, but said it’s also difficult to successfully sue a governmental entity, which is protected from some type of claims in the S.C. Tort Claims Act.
“The state has an interest in not paying out claims, because the state ultimately isn’t the one who bears the burden of paying out the claim,” he said. “It’s us, it’s the public.”
As the city appeals Barras’ case, Nappier said, the process could take up to a year.
Barras separately settled with Alsco, Inc., the company that supplied the rug, for $20,000.