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Woman suing IID can't recall events following accident

January 19, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ

Staff Writer

"I don't recall." "I don't recall." "I don't recall."

Such were the answers offered by the woman suing the Imperial Irrigation District, about medical advice and a visit to a doctor after a 1991 accident in which she suffered whiplash.

El Centro resident Carmen Hamrick does remember the 1991 accident, however.

Hamrick is suing the IID alleging she tripped and fell entering the district's auditorium Oct. 16, 1996, due to dangerous conditions.

Regarding information about events after her 1991 accident, when asked on cross-examination by IID attorney Frank Oswalt, Hamrick said she did not recall.

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She even forgot the accident was 10 years ago and not 20.

Hamrick testified she remembered going to the San Dieguito Orthopaedic Medical Group and saw a doctor there, but does not recall any specific advice regarding a neck injury.

"Not exactly in those words," she said, regarding the doctor's advice about her neck.

Hamrick also said she does not recall all of her talks with doctors, how many doctors she saw and does not recall one doctor at all.

"You know, I don't recall," she said when asked if she had ever visited a certain doctor about neck pain.

Hamrick initially had trouble remembering a meeting she attended at the auditorium in 1994.

"I don't recall," she said.

The importance of the meeting is because Hamrick insists she had never been on the north side of the auditorium before her fall in 1996 and thus would not be familiar with the curb over which she tripped.

She was asked if her testimony would change if she were told the 1994 meeting reportedly started at 6:30 p.m., meaning a metal gate between the customer service area and the auditorium was closed, requiring her to walk on the north side of the facility.

"As I said, I don't recall," she said.

After lunch, however, Hamrick said perhaps she did recall the meeting, and recalled where she parked her car, through which door she entered the building and that the metal gate was open.

Hamrick had previously testified under direct examination by her attorney last week. Oswalt's cross-examination was interrupted to accommodate expert witnesses for both sides.

Three other witnesses took the stand Friday.

Mario Escalera, IID general superintendent for construction and maintenance, testified that IID engineering drawings showing curb heights apply to streets and not necessarily to parking lots. He also said that just because some gutters are made of concrete, if the street is also concrete, there would not be a gutter of different material to add to color contrast.

Escalera said a gutter is merely where a street meets a sidewalk and is for channeling water.

Escalera was called as a witness by Hamrick's attorney, Lowell Sutherland of El Centro.

Darryl Croft, IID human resources manager, was called as a plaintiff witness by Sutherland.

Croft testified that one of his responsibilities includes employee safety. He said over the years he has walked around the auditorium many times, and any conditions considered unsafe were changed.

When asked by Oswalt if he would have had the curb over which Hamrick tripped modified if he'd thought or been told it was dangerous, Croft said he "sure would have."

Sutherland also called a character witness for Hamrick, Erica Berryman, who testified Hamrick is not the kind of woman to embellish her injuries nor to complain of pain.

Berryman, who said she's known Hamrick since about 1986, also said she'd noticed changes in Hamrick after Hamrick's 1996 fall, particularly that she lost her vivaciousness.

The trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

>>Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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