On Oct. 17, 2008, Pierre Dieujuste went to a kiosk at the ran by Premier USA Inc. There, a sales associate rubbed a sponge on his finger, which Dieujuste alleged caused his finger to swell and suffer from numbness and paronychia.
On Jan. 11, 2010, Diejuste and his lawyer filed a complaint against the Crystal Mall and Premier USA Inc for damages exceeding $15,000. The case was later settled out of court in June of 2011.
On Nov. 27, 2009, Diane Mincarelli slipped on some ice in the Crystal Mall parking lot. Mincarelli later sued the mall for damages exceeding $15,000. Another woman, Beatrice Colonni, also sued the mall in August of 2011 for falling down in the parking lot and is also seeking damages exceeding $15,000.
On May 19, 2010, James Hudgins fell down the stairs of the Crystal Mall. He sued the mall for damages exceeding $15,000. On Dec. 7, 2009, Dionne Brown-Facey was sitting in a chair in the Crystal Mall when it broke underneath Brown-Facey. Brown-Facey sued for damages exceeding $15,000.
It isn’t just the mall that is being sued. On Dec. 1, 2010 Louis Plano filed suit against Dominion after Plano slipped and fell on the ice on a sidewalk at Millstone Power Station. Plano seeked damages exceeding $15,000.
Most recently, on April 12 a woman filed suit against the . The woman alleged that on June 5, 2010 she passed out from dehydration while waiting in line for a beverage at the Speed Bowl and spent five days in a coma. She alleged that the Speed Bowl should have more places that sell beverages, among other complaints.
The town has been sued many times as well. For example, on April 1, 2009 Monique Brandle fell on a hill at Leary Park and
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All of these suits cost the town a lot of money, much like they cost all the other entities money, First Selectman Dan Steward said. While the town’s insurance company generally handles the cost of defending these suits, it increases the cost of insurance, he said.
“It is very expensive to defend these and you have to defend against them,” he said. “If we are at fault we will do everything we can to help that person. If we don’t think we are at fault, we will do everything we think we can to protect ourselves.”
The problem is that many times the insurance company will often settle the lawsuit to avoid legal costs, which encourages more lawsuits, Steward said. The solution is to have the person who filed the suit pay for both sides' costs if the suit is deemed frivolous by a judge, but that hasn’t happened because lawyers have a strong influence in the federal government, he said.
“A part of this is this is (lawyers’) business,” Steward said. “They make money off of this business. And they are going to find ways to fund their own pockets. That is how they keep their business going. They put a lot of money into the lobbying effort to make sure that laws are not changed to protect municipalities or protect others.”
Until that happens, the Town of Waterford and other entities will continue to battle lawsuits frequently, he said.