Jury trial due in suit against Canadian County, El Reno

Mustang woman claims negligence in fall on sidewalk near jail

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Canadian County District Judge Paul Hesse

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

EL RENO – A jury trial is expected in a lawsuit filed over a woman’s fall near the Canadian County Jail.

Mustang’s Pamela Smith is plaintiff in the civil suit against Canadian County Commissioners and the City of El Reno. Both defendants deny they are negligent.

The court action stems from injuries Smith sustained in April 2019 after allegedly stumbling and falling on “broken and uneven sidewalk” in front of the old jail building at the corner of Evans Avenue and Rogers Street.

Canadian County District Judge Paul Hesse said the case is set for a jury trial, likely in either February or March 2022.

Judge Hesse, at a May 21st court hearing, denied the City of El Reno’s motion for summary judgment in the case.

El Reno’s attorney had argued the woman’s fall “was nothing more than an unfortunate accident” and the plaintiff’s claims are “without merit,” court records show.

After Hesse’s ruling, the plaintiff’s attorney on July 19 filed a motion to enter this matter on a jury trial docket.

A court order setting a trial date was recently signed by Terry L. Pierce, attorney for the plaintiff; Robert Ray Jones Jr., attorney for the defendant City of El Reno; and H.R. Moon Jr., attorney for defendant Canadian County Commissioners.

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PLAINTIFF’S CLAIMS

In her lawsuit, plaintiff Smith claims she fell on her right hand and broke five bones, suffering disfigurement and permanent limitation of the use of that hand.

The woman had gone to the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office to get fingerprinted for her concealed carry license. It was as Smith walked toward the county jail for fingerprinting that she allegedly tripped on the sidewalk.

Smith and her attorney believe Canadian County and El Reno should have maintained and repaired the property so it “does not present a hazard to her and other persons invited to walk upon it,” according to court documents.

The woman is seeking a judgment “in excess of $75,000” for her injuries and damages: Physical pain, disfigurement and suffering; mental pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages.

Canadian County Commissioners have denied wrongdoing.

In the commissioners’ court-filed answer to the lawsuit, their attorneys wrote that Smith’s fall and injuries “were the result of her own negligence.”

Canadian County Commissioners are “exempt from liability under the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims Act”, according to their response.

The lawsuit was filed April 16, 2020, about six months after the City of El Reno denied Smith’s $125,000 tort claim.