Madison - St. Clair Record

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Impact Family Worship Center denies liability in woman’s trip and fall suit

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Aug 10, 2015

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 safety.

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.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 15-L-618

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Evans & Dixon Johnston Law Offices PC

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Patrick G. Johnston

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