Verdict: IID not liable for injuries to Hamrick

January 25, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

A jury's verdict decided today there was no dangerous condition on Imperial Irrigation District property that allegedly caused a woman to fall.

As a result, no money was awarded to the plaintiff, El Centro resident Carmen Hamrick.

In closing arguments Thursday, the plaintiff's attorney, Lowell Sutherland of El Centro, characterized the case as "the little girl from Calexico" who is taking on the IID. He equated the IID's defense to that of a barnyard animal.

Sutherland said the damages sought by Hamrick were about one-third of what is paid for a minimum-wage job. He sought $2.25 per hour for the rest of her life, in addition to about $45,000 in past and potential medical expenses. He asked the jury to award damages dating back to Hamrick's fall, Oct. 16, 1996.

Superior Court Judge Joseph Zimmerman said Hamrick's life expectancy is 12.2 years. Hamrick is 75.

What the jury does not know is the IID replaced the curb over which Hamrick allegedly tripped with a ramp in order to meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. There was some discussion in court about informing the jury of the change, but Sutherland could not convince Zimmerman the law would allow such information since IID argued the change was not made as a result of Hamrick's fall.


In closing arguments for IID, attorney Frank Oswalt, apologized but said Hamrick lied about her physical condition and what she could not do with her left arm and hand. He said she lied to her doctors, that she lied to her friends, and that worst of all, that she lied to the jury.

Oswalt then showed portions of a surveillance video showing Hamrick doing things she said she could not do.

Meanwhile, Sutherland said he had four issues he wanted to discuss away from the jury. One involved a conversation in a restroom about Hamrick and previous lawsuits. Sutherland said he was concerned a juror might have overheard it. Zimmerman asked the male jurors if they had overheard any such discussion and none said he had.

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

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