Family of woman injured at luau sues city

Published 10:27 pm Monday, October 4, 2010

A Smithfield woman has filed suit against the city for $5 million for negligence and wrongful death after complications of her mother’s injury at a city-sponsored event last year led to her death.

In its response, the city says the suit fails to state a cause of action and lacks evidence to verify its claims.

Denise Tynes, the plaintiff, is the daughter of Elizabeth Newby and administrator of her estate. Newby was one of two seniors who fell after being pushed by another woman at the senior luau in August 2009.

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Newby suffered a broken hip as a result of the fall and was transported to Sentara Obici Hospital for treatment. Two weeks later, she died as a result of “complications of traumatic left hip fracture,” according to her death certificate filed with the lawsuit. Her death was ruled a homicide.

The woman who allegedly pushed Newby, Velma D. Brown, has been deemed unfit for trial and is undergoing care to be restored to competency.

The senior event where the fall occurred was sponsored by the Suffolk Parks and Recreation department and held at the National Guard Armory on Godwin Boulevard. Tynes’ lawsuit alleges the city acted negligently when it failed to provide police officers for crowd control and when it allowed its employees to pick Newby up from the floor and place her in a chair.

“The conduct of [the city], its employees and agents exhibited a willful and wanton disregard for the safety and well-being of Mrs. Newby and was so egregious as to shock the conscience,” the lawsuit states.

Besides alleging the lawsuit lacks evidence to establish its claims, the city’s response states its employees are immune from liability under the state’s “Good Samaritan statute,” which prevents people who attempt to render emergency care or assistance to an ill or injured person from being held liable for civil damages.

“Defendant is immune to all claims brought by Plaintiff in this matter by reason of governmental immunity, sovereign immunity, or immunity,” the response says. It concludes by asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit and award attorney’s fees and other costs.