Former Congresswoman and Husband Sue Local Country Club for “Slip and Fall”
Shelley Sekula-Gibbs is a physician and former Houston City Council woman, who represented Texas 22nd Congressional District from November 2006 until January 2007. In 2008 she lost a runoff election to current Congressman Pete Olson.
In June 2013, Dr. Sekula-Gibbs, and her husband Robert W. Gibbs, Jr., sued the Clear Lake area Bay Oaks Country Club. The suit alleges that, in August 2011, she went to the club to exercise before work. As she was approaching a sink, she slipped and fell, injuring her neck, back and elbows. As she was lying on the floor, she realized the floor was slippery and wet from being mopped. She alleges there were no signs warning her of the danger of the allegedly slippery floor. She claims that, as a result of the fall, she was seriously injured and had to undergo a discectomy and fusion of her cervical spine. She also claims to have sustained a fracture in the sacral area of her spine. She sues for her medical bills, mental anguish, pain and suffering, lost wages, impairment and disfigurement.
Her husband also sues, claiming to have suffered mental anguish, loss of consortium and household services. Texas law defines “consortium” as mutual the right of the husband and wife to “that affection, solace, comfort, companionship, society, assistance, sexual relations, emotional support, love, and felicity necessary to a successful marriage”.
The couple also claims that they are entitled to exemplary (punitive) damages to “the extent, if any, the Defendant’s acts or omissions were the result of gross negligence”.
The petition states that the couple seeks damages of over $1,000,000.
The Gibbs are represented by Wayne Fisher, a distinguished graduate of Baylor University and Baylor Law School, and one of one of the most skilled and professional trial lawyers I have ever had the pleasure of working with.
Bay Oaks has answered, denying the allegations and claiming that the doctor’s “own negligent and/or intentional acts were the sole …” cause of the damages she is claiming.
Harris County District Judge R.K. Sandill has set the case for trial in August.
While running for reelection in 2008, Dr. Sekula-Gibbs was a proponent of tort reform, and was quoted in the Houston Chronicle as stating that she was aware of “the problems caused by frivolous lawsuits and oppressive regulations”. Mr. Fisher does not file frivolous lawsuits, and the allegations made in the petition make it clear that the case is anything but frivolous. But whether the couple will win the case is far from clear. Several tort reform measures passed by the Texas Legislature, and many decisions of the Texas Supreme Court, severely limit injured persons’ likelihood of recovery in premises liability cases such as this one. I’ll discuss these in future posts.