Painter sues after falling from unfinished stairwell

Kelly Holleran Aug. 5, 2009, 6:33am

A woman says she suffered severe injuries to her head, neck, shoulders, arms, spine, back, legs and feet after she fell off an unfinished stairwell with no railing.

Laurie L. Hilliard filed a lawsuit July 29 in Madison County Circuit Court against Dan Wyhs; Elaine Wyhs; Brandon Wyhs, doing business as Wyhsco Construction; Wyhsco Construction; Don Waddles; Don Waddles doing business as Archway Construction; Archway Construction and Matt Mallinex.

Hilliard claims she was working for Touched by an Angel to provide painting and trim work services at a home Dan and Elaine Wyhs contracted to have constructed at 3931 Alliance Dr. in Bethalto.

On July 30, 2007, while performing her assigned tasks, Hilliard fell from the top of an unfinished stairwell, according to the complaint.

In addition to her alleged injuries, Hilliard experienced great physical pain, suffering, emotional distress, disability and loss of a normal life, plus she incurred medical costs and lost income, the suit states.

She blames Dan Wyhs and Elaine Wyhs for a number of negligent acts, including their failure to make a reasonable inspection of the premises, their allowance of a fall hazard to exist, their failure to exercise reasonable care to protect her from an injury, their failure to barricade the fall hazard and their failure to properly manage the premises.

All defendants "created a fall hazard by removing the railing that barricaded the unfinished stairwell upon the premises at the 3631 Alliance jobsite," the complaint says.

Defendant Brandon Wyhs and Wyhsco Construction were providing carpentry and flooring work services at the home when Hilliard's fall occurred, she claims. Defendant Waddle and Archway Construction were providing framing work services while Mallinex was providing dry wall services at the time, according to the complaint.

In the 16-count suit, Hilliard is seeking a judgment of more than $700,000, plus costs and additional relief the court deems just.

John H. Fredrick Jr. of Spector, Wolfe and McLaughlin in Kirkwood, Mo. will be representing her.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-791.

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