Woman says city, league at fault for hit by softball
A St. Helens woman filed a lawsuit alleging negligence against several parties after she was injured playing softball in a St. Helens park in 2016.
Lynn Hanks, through Stephen Petersen, a Rainier-based attorney, filed suit in Columbia County Circuit Court earlier this year alleging she was injured Aug. 31, 2016, in Campbell Park when Hanks was unable to see during an evening softball game and was hit in the face by a ball.
Hanks claims in the suit she was unable to see because overgrown trees in the park blocked the field lights, resulting in her injuries.
Hanks suffered sinus wall fractures and damage around her right eye socket, court documents state, adding that the injury also caused double vision, numbness, headaches and a concussion.
The suit, which was filed jointly against the city of the St. Helens, the city's Parks Department, and the St. Helens Adult Softball league, alleges each plaintiff was negligent in specific ways leading up to the injury. The city and the Parks Department were negligent in failing to properly trim trees around the field that blocked overhead lights, despite a request made by the softball league to do so, court documents state. The lawsuit also alleges the softball league was negligent by failing to schedule games at a time of day when overhead lights would not be needed.
Hanks, who was unable to work for several weeks after the injury, is requesting just over $327,000 in relief, including $250,000 in non-economic damages, $57,471 in medical expenses, $16,408 for future medical expenses, and $3,360 for lost wages, court documents note.
St. Helens City Administrator John Walsh said the city generally does not comment on ongoing litigation as policy, but added that just because a suit is filed does not mean it has merit.
Walsh noted that the city's Parks Department does the best it can to maintain city facilities with limited resources, and said staff were in the parks on a weekly basis. In the 2016-17 fiscal year, the city budgeted for 1.7 full-time employees in its Parks Department.
Petersen did not respond for a request for comment.
A court date for the lawsuit has not yet been scheduled.