Casino Sued for Wrongful Death of Elderly Patron
The glib phrase “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” took on a tragic meaning at Harrah’s Casino in downtown Joliet, Illinois. 87-year-old Elaine Catuara was critically injured when a malfunctioning door at the casino struck her as she was leaving, resulting in extensive injuries to her hip, and at least two vertebrae located in her lower back. The force of the door was so strong that witnesses described Ms. Catuara as being “violently catapulted to the floor.”
After being hospitalized for nearly three weeks, Ms. Catuara passed away after she had initially filed a negligence lawsuit against the casino. Subsequently, her attorneys amended the lawsuit on behalf of her surviving family members, claiming wrongful death, and attributing her demise to the severe nature of the injuries suffered at Harrah’s.
The Negligence Lawsuit
The original lawsuit describes Ms. Catuara as moving through the “vestibule area” on the way to the exit “when the previously opened door quickly closed on her.” Ms. Catuara’s attorney, James McKay, went on to describe how the 87-year-old woman was “thrown violently” to the floor where she sustained her injuries. The injuries were such that Ms. Catuara experienced extreme financial burdens due to her extensive medical bills, pain, and suffering, and the “inability to enjoy her life” as she had been able to do until that point as she was independent, mobile, and able to care for herself on a daily basis.
Public businesses and establishments have a legal responsibility to assure the safety of the patrons who gather at these locations. When these basic, commonsense protections are not in place, tragedies such as this can needlessly occur. Harrah’s simply had to ensure the proper function of a hydraulic door located in their casino. Literally, minutes of preventive maintenance or repair would have prevented an incident such as this from happening to Ms. Catuara, or anyone else seeking the fun and excitement of a casino visit.
The Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Mr. McKay went on to explain to the media why he felt the wrongful death suit was warranted. He informed the Joliet Patch that the injuries that occurred due to Harrah’s negligence “absolutely played a significant role in causing her death:”
There is never enough money to compensate for the lost time, lost experiences, lost income, and lost memories that occur when a loved-one is taken from us prematurely. Sadder still is the loss when it is the senseless and unnecessary result of someone’s negligence. Businesses such as Harrah’s Casino have, for all intents and purposes, limitless funds to combat individuals who seek damages resulting from the negligent behavior.
There is no shortage of legal firepower that can be brought to bear on behalf of a casino when attempting to abdicate responsibility for the suffering caused by poor maintenance (or lack thereof), lack of security measures, or poorly designed structures. However, the burden on an individual to hold such establishments accountable is usually prohibitive financially.
Fortunately, personal injury attorneys are often fully capable, knowledgeable, and dedicated to providing relief to individuals seeking justice against a formidable adversary such as a casino. The benefits of legal representation are not only for the wealthy but also for the average person who has been wronged.