October 17, 2002, Thursday
The Associated Press State & Local Wire
A woman who broke her ankle at Funtown/Splashtown USA after falling from a rented wheelchair has lost her $2 million suit against the amusement park.
Ledrena Freeman, of Chelsea, claimed that the chair she rented was faulty and caused her to fall as she was going down a ramp at the Saco park. The jury in the civil case in Kennebec County Superior Court returned a verdict Wednesday after deliberating less than half an hour.
Freeman, who has multiple sclerosis, underwent surgery to repair her fractured ankle and spent two weeks in the hospital and a rehabilitation facility.
Her medical bills totaled $16,000, according to Sean Farris, her lawyer.
He asked the jury to award Freeman that amount as well as compensation for pain, suffering and mental anguish.
Timothy Bryant, the park's lawyer, said in his closing argument that Freeman may have been hurt because her son, then 15, was pushing the wheelchair too fast and she put a foot on the ground to slow it down.
"Just because an accident happens doesn't mean it was someone's fault," Bryant said.
Farris said the wheelchair was not well-maintained and that the pedal dropped down and caught on the ground, causing her to lurch forward.
"They invite the public into the park and they charge money," Farris said. "It is their duty to maintain the equipment on the premises in a safe condition."
Farris said the wheelchair should have been inspected more often than twice a year, noting that the roller coaster was inspected every day.
Farris said the jury was not allowed to hear all the evidence on the wheelchair's condition.
He said he and Freeman are considering an appeal based on that issue.
Copyright © 2002, The Associated Press State & Local Wire