Slipping into something more comfortable

The Madison County Record Sep. 25, 2010, 8:00am

In old movies, elegantly dressed hostesses are always excusing themselves to "slip into something more comfortable."

Teresa Caldwell wants to slip into something more comfortable too, but it's not a lacy, satin negligee. She's hoping to increase her comfort level by turning a slip-and-fall lawsuit into a nice, plump settlement for "pain and suffering."

Caldwell has filed suit in Madison County Circuit Court against the Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 536 of Madison, Macoupin, Jersey, Greene, and Calhoun Counties and the state of Illinois. She claims to have sustained serious and permanent injuries after falling on a temporary hillside path between the main campus and the parking lot at Lewis and Clark Community College.

"During rainy weather, the temporary walkway became muddy and slippery," Caldwell's suit asserts. "Upon finishing class and while walking back in the dark to her car on the temporary walkway, Plaintiff slipped on mud, lost her balance, tripped over a raised metal landscaping barrier and rocks, and fell to the ground."

Caldwell's injuries are certainly lamentable, but, as she herself notes, the pathway was a temporary one and it had been raining. Extra caution would seem to be warranted under such circumstances. It's hardly reasonable to expect a temporary walkway to be as secure as a permanent one, or to blame a community college for inclement weather.

It might be reasonable to file a claim with one's own insurance company, or to present medical bills and other legitimate expenses to the college for compensation, but filing suit for a judgment of more than $50,000? That seems a bit much.

If Caldwell really wants to slip into something more comfortable, she should cultivate an appreciation for the vagaries of life. Sometimes things just happen and no one's to blame. In most cases, the best thing to do is chalk it up to experience and be more careful next time.

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