A 9-year-old Montesano girl has filed a lawsuit against the promoter of a Mexican rodeo event for sustaining permanent injuries when a fence fell on her two years ago at the Grays Harbor County fairgrounds in Elma.
The girl has also filed a $750,000 claim for damages against Grays Harbor County, claiming negligence.
Since the girl is a minor, state law doesn’t allow her to directly file the lawsuit. The Grays Harbor Superior Court appointed attorney Erik Kupka to act on her behalf as her guardian ad litem. Kupka and the girl are represented by attorney Scott Campbell of Montesano.
The lawsuit was filed in Grays Harbor Superior Court against Taco El Rey Promotion, Taqueria El Rey and owner Antonio Lopez of Lewis County, along with whatever parent companies may exist of the promoters. The suit was filed this past January and the claim for damages against the county was filed in June. The claim must be filed 90 days before a suit can be filed against the county.
Campbell notes the girl, who attends Beacon Elementary, was 7 years old when she was playing at the fairgrounds.
“The fence fell and she was just horribly hurt,” Campbell said. “She was left with a permanent pin in her right femur, which had fractured and left it disfigured.”
The lawsuit alleges that on Sept. 23, 2012, Lopez organized a Mexican rodeo, leased the facility from the county, advertised the event and sold admission tickets. The victim attended the event with her family.
“Subsequently to the beginning of the event, children were permitted to play and/or be around metal fencing,” Campbell states in his lawsuit. “Because defendants failed to adequately supervise or take adequate precautions, a portion of the metal fence fell down and struck the leg and head of (the girl), thereby causing severe and permanent injuries to her person. Because of the severity of a right femur fracture, her injuries required surgical intervention necessitating a permanent pin to support the repaired fracture.”
Campbell says that someone had removed stakes and pins in the ground supporting the fences. As a result, the fences fell and hurt the girl.
“The defendants have a duty to maintain the premises in a safe condition and to discover hazardous conditions,” the lawsuit states. “The defendants also had an obligation to anticipate that participants would not discover or realize a danger. Defendants also had a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect spectators against these type of dangers.”
Seattle Attorney Gregory Turner, representing Lopez and his companies, denied the allegations.
In his official answer to the complaint, Turner points a finger at the manufacturer of the fencing, as well as the Grays Harbor Mounted Posse, which allegedly installed the fencing, as well as the county.
“If you are asserting negligence by the security personnel, security for the event was provided by independent contractors, including off-duty sheriff’s deputies,” Turner adds.
Turner also notes that whoever pulled the fence pins may also be negligent, although that person’s identity is not known.
“The parents of the plaintiff as well as the parents of any person who may have removed pins from the fence may also be liable for negligent supervision of their children,” Turner writes.
Campbell notes that since the finger was pointed at the county, he’s had no choice but to file a damage claim against the county. Campbell notes a member of the fair staff was a witness to the accident.