Panorama spoiled evidence of bowler's slip in front of foul lane, suit says

Kelly Holleran Aug. 25, 2011, 1:23am

A Missouri woman claims a bowling alley destroyed evidence relating to an alleged fall that caused the woman to break her wrist.

Sue Mason filed a complaint Aug. 4 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Panorama Lanes.

In her complaint, Mason claims she slipped and fell on an oily substance located on the lane in front of the foul line. The incident occurred at Panorama on Aug. 8, according to the complaint.

Only a few minutes before Mason's fall, her bowling partner, Bryan Huckleba, had approached Panorama employee Jessica Johnson to let her know of the slick substance, the suit states. Johnson informed him that no additional lanes were available and that he and Mason could either wait for a new lane or continue bowling at their current lane, the complaint says.

Huckleba and Mason elected to continue bowling, but say they never saw an attempt made by a Panorama employee to clean the substance before Mason's fall.

Because of her fall, Mason sustained a broken left wrist, suffered disfigurement due to a scar on her left wrist and continues to endure limited flexibility in her hand and fingers, according to the complaint. In addition, she was temporarily unable to engage in her normal activities, lost strength in her left hand and experienced pain and suffering, the suit states.

Mason blames Panorama for causing her fall, saying the bowling alley's employees failed to clean up the slick spot after they had received information about it, failed to inspect the lane approach area and failed to provide Huckleba a towel with lane approach cleaner. In addition, employees negligently allowed Huckleba and Mason to continue using the lane after being told of the slick spot, the complaint says.

A video camera captured Mason's tumble and showed that Mason had not crossed the foul line when she slipped, according to the complaint.

"When she fell, part of her body was across the foul line and part of her body was behind the foul line but she slipped and fell due to oil, or some other slippery substance, on the approach side of the foul line," the suit states.

The tape could have been used as evidence in court, but Panorama employees failed to keep the recording, the complaint says.

"If the jury finds in Panorama's favor because Sue is unable to prove that she slipped in the approach area in front of the foul line, then Sue will have been damaged by the Panorama's negligent spoilation of the video recording," the suit states. "But for that spoilation of evidence, Sue would have been able to recover for her injuries."

In her three-count complaint, Mason seeks a judgment of more than $150,000 but less than $225,000, plus costs.

Jim Ellis of Ellis Law Firm in Belleville will be representing Mason.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-441.

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