Watch your step

The Madison County Record Jun. 17, 2007, 9:00am

Roberta Vandalia says she hurt her left arm and eyes. She fell on a step by the ladies bathroom, she claims, during a charity event at an East Alton high school football field last summer.

Now she's suing the charity-- the American Cancer Society, which was holding its annual "Relay for Life" to raise money for cancer research-- and asking for "greater than $50,000" for her injuries.

She's represented by the indomitable prince of the monetizable Madison County mishap, lawyer Lance Mallon of Wood River.

Mallon was last seen on the big stage last November, representing a 30-year-old man suing his 13-year-old nephew over injuries the oldster suffered when the two were jumping on the pre-teen's trampoline. The negligent kid didn't warn his uncle of the dangers of doubling up, Mallon charged.

More recently, Mallon has filed suits on behalf of a woman who fell on a spilled drink in the restaurant of the Ameristar Casino and against a Bunker Hill convenience store that sold a man alcohol. He later got drunk and allegedly assaulted Mallon's client.

Whatever you think of the causality of those past exploits, this latest grievance-- targeting a charity for big damages over a woman's clumsy stumble-- hits rock bottom.

We don't know Ms. Vandalia, nor did she elaborate on the extent of the injuries she cited in her complaint. But we do know something about tripping on steps at a highly-trafficked sports stadium. Only a lawyer would have the audacity to blame it on a lack of "proper lighting" and "adequate marking."

It's easy to laugh when a big name corporation-- say, Pizza Hut-- gets stuck in the frivolous lawsuit cross hairs. Perhaps that's because they're big and, we figure, strong enough to defend themselves.

But local charities don't have legal departments; simply answering a single petty charge like this one can serve to undo all the good their long-planned event-- Relay for Life is a volunteer-driven community event led by cancer survivors-- aimed to corral.

Alas, this lawsuit isn't funny, but just plain sad.

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