AP NEWS

Pittsburgh woman wins civil suit against Seven Springs

March 22, 2019

A Pittsburgh woman has been awarded $50,000 for a slip-and-fall injury at Seven Springs Mountain Resort.

An arbitration board awarded the amount to Amy L. Hebda Friday afternoon. It is believed to be the largest award granted under the arbitration limit in Somerset County.

In a memorandum filed Friday, attorney Frederick Segal wrote that Hebda was dropped off at the resort’s main entrance by her husband on Jan. 30, 2014. She later walked out of the convention center, found the family’s car in the parking lot and began walking toward it.

The lot, she said, was covered in ridges of ice 3 to 6 inches thick, he wrote.

“The parking lot was a complete mess,” he quoted her as saying. There was no indication that it had been treated. “The ice in the parking lot was unbelievably thick.”

Hebda fell on her way to the car, landing on her right arm and shoulder.

In the original lawsuit filed on March 9, 2016, Segal wrote that Hebda suffered pain, soft-tissue injuries, nerve damage and a torn rotator cuff as a result of the fall.

She “has been obligated to receive and undergo many types of medical, therapeutic, physical therapy, steroidal injections, anti-inflammatory drugs and other treatments as well as surgical procedure and intervention and to incur large and various expenses, and will continue to incur such expenses in the future,” Segal wrote.

He wrote that Seven Springs was liable for her injuries.

“In fact, it was the dereliction of the duty to Mrs. Hebda as a business invitee, that Seven Springs caused her to be forced to navigate a treacherous and uncared for parking lot owned by defendant where they were legally required to be parked,” he wrote.

The resort’s attorney, John R. Merinar Jr., of Bridgeport, West Virginia, could not be reached for comment late Thursday afternoon.

Merinar wrote in an earlier court document that there was no evidence that the resort had received notice of the condition of the parking lot. He also said that the parking lot was “double covered” by a three-man crew and a contractor, who spent 3 1/2 hours moving snow and spreading ash on the day in question.

Both parties agreed on July 17 to remand the matter before an arbitration board.

Arbitration is a method to help resolve lawsuits early and only involves civil cases under a certain monetary amount. Each county’s president judge sets the arbitration limit. Somerset County’s amount is $50,000, where formerly it was $125,000. Arbitration involves a formal court hearing in front of three lawyers instead of a judge or jury.

Court Administrator Brad Cober appointed the arbitrators, Julianne Keri of Somerset, Randy Wisnouse of Johnstown and Marci Miller of Somerset. The board heard the case on Dec. 14, Jan. 31 and March 15.

“It was arduous,” Segal said. “I’ve never been in any arbitration case that was a war.” Segal sits on arbitration boards in Allegheny County and has represented many clients before arbitration boards. The arbitrators met three times, for a total of 10 hours, when on average most arbitrations last one to three hours over one day, according to court staff.

An arbitration award is binding. Neither party can appeal the decision.