Knoebels lawsuit: Did fall cause woman’s injuries or did her story change?

WILLIAMSPORT — It is undisputed that a New York woman fell and injured her right knee while visiting Knoebels Amusement Resort with her late husband and three grandchildren in 2012.

It will be up to the jury of five men and three women in U.S. Middle District Court to determine whether negligence by H.H. Knoebel Sons Inc., the operator of the park near Elysburg, caused the injury.

Jurors were not told the amount of damages Christine Wagner, 62, of Endicott, is seeking, but a court document states that figure for pain and suffering is $500,000.

Wagner was injured June 27, 2012, when she claims she tripped over a root slightly protruding in a walkway between two rides.

In his opening statement Monday, her lawyer, Michael Briechle, called the root a dangerous condition.

Wagner was walking toward the Fandango ride to take a picture of one of her grandchildren when she fell, he said.

“The fall totally changed her life,” he said of the registered nurse.

She missed work, was on crutches for a significant period, later lost her job and underwent a total knee replacement in October 2013 plus other surgeries, he said.

Whether she was pushed, as the defense claims, has no bearing on the case, Briechle said.

Knoebels’ attorney Paul W. Grego accused Wagner of not looking where she was walking and noted no one else had complained about a root in the walkway under a low-hanging branch.

He pointed out Wagner was wearing flip-flops and told emergency personnel she had been pushed. She had been to the park near Elysburg before and since the fall, he said.

A Knoebels medical expert will testify Wagner suffered only a bone bruise and that degenerative arthritis was the reason for her knee replacement, Grego said.

A July 2012 MRI showed the fall injury was not to the side of the knee with the arthritis, he said.

Wagner told emergency personnel the day of fall she had been feeling a little lightheaded and may have been dehydrated, he said. She has since given different versions of what happened, including that she fell on stones and hit a tree stump.

Wagner was discharged from therapy three months after the fall, returned to work and received a promotion, he said.

The first time she told the doctor she was seeing for knee issues about the fall was May 1, 2015, nearly a year after the suit was filed, he said.

Wagner underwent surgery on the same knee when she was 17 as the result of a skiing accident. She was in a traffic accident after the fall, Grego said.

The trial is expected to last at least three days.

In January, Judge Matthew W. Brann refused a defense motion to dismiss the suit, claiming there were issues of fact that should be submitted to a jury.

 

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