A Granite City church sued after a woman allegedly
tripped and fell at a yard sale has accused her of causing her own injuries for
failing to avoid an “open and obvious” condition.
Kimberly Benda filed her May 14 complaint against
Leonard D. Johnson II, Leonard D. Hildebrand II, Ryan Hildebrand, Impact Family
Worship Center of Metro St. Louis and Impact Family Worship Center Inc.
According to the complaint, Benda visited Johnson’s
church, located at 4004 Vesci St. in Granite City, for a yard sale on May 30,
2013. She claims a hole existed on the property, which had allegedly been
covered with carpeting or a mat before the sale. The plaintiff claims she
tripped and fell on the hole, causing her injuries.
The defendants are accused of negligence and
carelessness for failing to inspect the property before and during the sale,
repair the hole, warn Benda of a hazardous condition, inspect the property to
keep it up to state and local codes as well as industry standards, and properly
fill and cover the hole.
Johnson, Ryan Hildebrand and Impact Family Worship
Center Inc. denied the allegations in their July 20 answer to the complaint
through attorney David C. Berwin of Evans & Dixon in St. Louis.
They asserted seven affirmative defenses against the
plaintiff, claiming her own negligence caused her alleged injuries when she
failed to keep a careful lookout and failed to exercise due care for her own
They also argue in their affirmative defenses that
defendants Leonard D. Hildebrand II and Impact Family Worship Center of Metro
St. Louis do not exist and should be dismissed from the suit. Therefore, the
defendants filed a motion to dismiss those parties the same day.
Benda responded to the defendants’ affirmative
defenses on July 30, denying the allegations against her.
Benda seeks damages in excess of $250,000, plus costs.
The plaintiff is represented by Patrick G. Johnston of
the Johnston Law Offices in Edwardsville.
County Circuit Court case number 15-L-618