The New Canaan Nature Center is denying a woman’s claim that poorly installed and maintained shelving in a closet caused severe injuries when items located within it crashed onto her.
According to a lawsuit filed Oct. 10 that seeks $15,000 also names the town, Shirley Phelps-Anderson two years earlier “sustained injuries and damages” when she opened a closet at the Oenoke Ridge facility and “items violently fell onto her, striking her in the face, head and chest.”
The complaint, filed by Stamford-based lawyer Eric Reinken of The Reinken Law Firm, says the shelves were incorrectly installed, defective, unsafe and improperly maintained.
Officials at the Nature Center could not immediately be reached for comment. Court documents show that the defendant answered the suit.
“Basically their [the Nature Center’s] claim is that she failed to keep a proper lookout and that she was responsible for her own injuries,” Reinken said. “The facts show that she had no idea there was a problem.”
According to the complaint, Phelps-Anderson sustained “painful, severe and/or permanent injuries” to her eye, head, face and neck.
“As a further result of the aforesaid incident, the plaintiff, Shirley Phelps-Anderson, has been required to expend and/or will be required to expend in the future considerable sums of money for emergency medical treatment, hospitalization, medical care and treatment, surgery, x-rays and other diagnostic test, physical therapy and medication all to her financial loss,” the lawsuit says.
Reinken said that New Canaan has not responded to the suit because he’s in talks about settling the case with lawyers representing the town.
Town Administrator Tom Stadler declined to comment on the case, citing the pending litigation, saying only that the case is in the hands of the town’s insurance carrier and attorneys. Those officials, with the New Haven-based Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, could not immediately be reached for comment.
It isn't clear whether a settlement with the town also would do away with the Nature Center suit, Reinkein said, since it depends on the type of settlement reached. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for Nov. 6, court records show.