Broken ankle yields settlement for Duluth tourist

City to pay $75K to woman who tripped on a sandbag

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Duluth City Hall. file / News Tribune

A Florida woman will receive $75,000 from the city of Duluth to settle a claim she filed after tripping on a partially obstructed public sidewalk during a visit to Duluth in the summer of 2016.

Christine Sheran, of Lake Suzy, Fla., said she suffered a fractured ankle and sued the city, seeking in excess of $50,000 to cover her health care costs and as compensation for the pain and suffering she experienced in the aftermath of her injury.

The Duluth City Council voted 8-0 Monday to approve the settlement, with 5th District Councilor Jay Fosle absent. The agreement stipulates that the city acknowledges no liability or wrongdoing.

In return, Sheran agreed to drop her claim and any future charges related to the incident, which occurred Aug. 15, 2016. Her complaint said she and her husband were visiting Duluth and were returning to their hotel after an evening in Canal Park, when she turned her ankle on a sandbag that had been used to secure a temporary sign that had been set up on South Lake Avenue near Ninth Street.

The sign had been erected during a construction project, directing passersby to the temporarily obstructed entrance of Julian Boat Works. The suit said the work had been completed, yet the sign remained in place with a sandbag partially obstructing the sidewalk. In the darkness, Sheran had not seen the obstruction until it was too late, the suit claimed.


The complaint said the city of Duluth had shirked its responsibility to properly maintain the temporary sign and to remove it in a timely fashion when it was no longer needed.

In its answer to the suit, the city denied it had been negligent, and the case was scheduled to go to trial before Judge Dale Harris on Oct. 15. But the settlement approved by the council Monday is expected to resolve the matter.

Funding for the settlement is expected to come from a city account set up to cover self-insurance liabilities, insurance accounts and liability complaints.

Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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