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NC Supreme Court to Consider Wrongful Death Suit Against Wilson County

A woman filing a wrongful death suit against Wilson County over the death of her husband has been given the go-ahead by the North Carolina Supreme Court.

The Wilson Times reports that the lawsuit filed by Lois Edmonson Bynum will be considered despite Wilson County’s attempt to appeal an earlier decision by a local judge, which was subsequently upheld by the N.C. Court of Appeals, allowing the suit to proceed.

Lois Bynum’s lawsuit alleges Wilson County was responsible for the death of her husband James Earl Bynum. Bynum had gone to the county’s office building on Miller Road on April 15, 2008 to pay his water bill. As he exited the building, he fell facedown on the front steps and suffered debilitating injuries, later leading to his death, reports the Times.

Wilson County initially filed a motion for summary judgment in a local court on the grounds of government immunity. The motion was denied on the basis of Bynum’s reason for entering the county building — to pay his water bill, which is not considered a governmental function. Rather, water service through a municipal corporation is considered a proprietary function, and liability for negligence applies in the same way it would to a privately owned company.

According to the Times, the ruling was upheld again in the N.C. Court of Appeals and most recently by the state Supreme Court.

When the initial incident occurred, Bynum and his wife claimed that the stairs of the county building had given out as he was walking down them, causing him to fall two-thirds of the way down. A metal plate signifying repairs had been placed on one of the steps, but the lawsuit claims that the step Bynum fell from did not have a plate.

Injuries incurred from the fall caused Bynum to become a quadriplegic, leading to a drastically lowered quality of life. He died in January 2011.

Property owners and managers are responsible for maintaining the safety of their properties. When something causes someone to slip and fall and sustain serious injuries, they can be held liable. To learn more on the subject or to speak with an attorney about a possible premise liability lawsuit, contact Kelly & West today.

NOTE: Kelly & West is not handling the case mentioned in this news article.

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