Longtime Washington resident Bette Mahoney this week filed a $1 million lawsuit in Rappahannock County Circuit Court against the Inn at Little Washington, claiming negligence and failure to maintain premises by the Inn that created “a dangerous and hazardous condition.”
On Jan. 20, 2015, Mahoney tripped and fell on uneven pavement on Inn-owned property in front of the Washington Post Office, fracturing a vertebra in her neck, according to the petition filed Tuesday.
The complaint states that Mahoney, a handicapped driver, “parked her vehicle in the parking lot’s only handicapped space” and that the graded handicap entrance was defective. When Mahoney stepped on the curb ramp, “[she] felt her foot catch on the macadam, and fell forward. Mrs. Mahoney was unable to stop her fall and continued forward, striking a wooden kiosk. As a result of her fall, Mrs. Mahoney suffered fractured vertebra in her neck (broken neck) and a head wound with substantial bleeding. As Mrs. Mahoney was being transported to the hospital she had a heart attack.”
The suit charges that the handicapped space was improperly designed, installed and maintained, and in need of repair, “despite [the Inn] being on notice of its dangerous condition.” Almost two years after the accident, the parking area — which is part of a long-term outdoor improvement project by the Inn around the corner of Main and Middle streets — has still not been altered.
On the phone Wednesday, Mahoney said that the Inn had been notified of her accident soon after it occurred. “I knew the Inn knew about it,” she said, “because people from the Inn saw the ambulance.” She said the incident, which happened around lunchtime, drew “quite a crowd.”
Mahoney was first taken by ambulance to Culpeper, but when doctors there diagnosed her broken neck she was immediately moved to U.Va. Medical Center in Charlottesville, where she spent about 10 days. For six months after the accident, she wore a neck brace that “I was not allowed to take off even to shower,” she said. “Because of the heart attack, my doctors were afraid to do surgery” to insert pins to stabilize her vertebrae. Her neck is still not fully recovered, despite months of physical therapy.
The suit asks for a jury trial.
Reached Wednesday, Inn attorney David Fiske declined to comment on the lawsuit.
District court actions
In district court Tuesday (Dec. 6), Gregory Thomas Williams, 41, of Flint Hill was arraigned on a misdemeanor charge of assault and battery. According to the criminal complaint filed by Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Lt. Jason Romero, on Nov. 15 “Aaron Hawkins alleged that his employer, Gregory Williams, kicked and choked him. Williams stated he lost his temper and put his hands on Hawkins’ face or neck. Hawkins suffered internal bruising as result of the incident.” Further action was scheduled by the court for Jan. 10.
Barry Fletcher, 53, of Huntly, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of assault and two misdemeanor charges of intentional destruction of property. All the charges stem from an incident on Sept. 3 when, according to the criminal complaint, RCSO Deputy Dave Epley responded to a dispute at Fletcher’s residence. Keeba Wilkerson and Frederick Svede claimed that Fletcher assaulted them and their vehicles with a shovel, bruising the two and causing more than $1,000 damage to each vehicle.
Fletcher’s attorney Frank Reynolds said via phone Wednesday that “Fletcher felt that the sanctity of her home had been violated” and was trying to remove Wilkerson and Svede.
Fletcher was sentenced to 12 months in jail for each assault charge, both sentences running concurrently. All but one one month was suspended on the condition of good behavior. For each of the destruction charges, she was sentenced to 12 months in jail, all suspended. She will be on supervised probation for a year, and must pay restitution of about $6,000 and perform 100 hours of community service.