Board of Ed’s Lawyers: Woman Who Tripped and Fell at NCHS Was Careless

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The local woman who fell outside New Canaan High School and broke her nose on a Thursday night two years ago did so out of carelessness and not because the town or district were negligent, according to an answer and special defense filed this week on behalf of the Board of Education.

Joan Holloway was “not watchful of her surroundings” and “failed to take the necessary and proper precautions” in tripping on a piece of metal rebar that protruded from where a paved walkway meets the grass on the southern end of the main entrance to NCHS, according to attorneys Michael Ryan and Jonathan Zellner of Stamford-based Ryan Ryan Deluca LLP.

According to a lawsuit filed on Holloway’s behalf last year that names the Board of Ed, town and high school principal as defendants, the New Canaan woman at about 6:45 p.m. one evening in April 2017 “was unable to brace herself” after she tripped and “her face slammed into the paving stones covering the entranceway to the High School, thus causing injuries” that include “abrasions, scarring, severe bruising and discoloration throughout her face,” contusions and swelling of her left knee and “ongoing tenderness of her injured body parts,” according to the lawsuit.

Holloway additionally has had “pain, suffering, embarrassment and humiliation” and a “severe shock to her nervous system,” according to the lawsuit.

The original complaint said she’s seeking more than $15,000, compensatory damages, costs and interest and “such the relief at law or equity as the court deems just and fair.” Holloway is represented by attorney Lawrence F. Reilly of the Ridgefield-based Reilly Law Firm.

The case is set for a May 2020 jury trial, Connecticut Judicial Branch records show. 

In June, Reilly offered to settle the case for $95,000, records show.

In its first special defense, filed this week in state Superior Court, attorneys said that because Holloway’s acts were “discretionary in nature,” the defendants are protected by governmental immunity and therefore not liable. She also “failed to make reasonable and proper use of her faculties and senses so as to avoid tripping and falling” and “failed to exercise reasonable care for her safety,” the answer said.

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