French fry goo costs city $5,000

An oozing box of frozen French fries appears to have cost the city $5,000.

That was the price tag to settle a lawsuit brought by Florine Herron of Louisiana, a woman injured in a slip-and-fall accident at the Minneapolis Convention Center Aug. 14, 2001 while attending the Gospel Music Workshop of America.

The Council approved the payment Aug. 20 12-0.

According to an Aug. 4 City Attorney's memo:

Herron, 53, slipped on a spot near an exhibit hall and a Kelber Catering's service door. She alleges a variety of injuries were sustained, including, "soreness and pain to her neck, mid-back and lower-back; numbness to her lower back and right side; headaches; difficulty remaining awake; and difficulty with mobility."

Patrick Fleming, the Convention Center's safety manager, investigated at the time of the incident and found a slippery patch "that was not obvious until stepped upon." He determined a Kelber employee had put a box of French fries down near the spot, which had apparently leached the slippery substance.

Herron sued Kelber, the Convention Center and the Gospel Music Workshop for negligence, seeking $90,000. Herron is on disability pension from the state of Louisiana and said the injuries required her to take a year without pay from the school district in which she has been employed, has left her unable to work and forced her to close her own music studio.

Defendants disputed the extent of Herron's injuries and noted she had preexisting injuries from two prior car accidents. Kelber's catering manager recently said she had seen no slippery spot at the time of the accident and "substantially denied the admissions made to Mr. Fleming regarding food products left outside the concession stand."

However, city attorneys said liability was clear. The floor was slippery, and the condition wasn't obvious. Rather than risk a larger jury award, the city and Kelber settled, the city paying $5,000 and Kelber paying $10,000, the memo said.