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In most cases, we might refer to a door hitting someone on the way out of a casino after losing money as adding insult to injury. But it was the other way around for 87-year-old Elaine Catuara, who was hit by a malfunctioning front door at Harrah's Casino Hotel in downtown Joliet, Illinois, "violently catapulting her to the floor."
Catuara suffered fractures to her hip and to two vertebrae in her lower back, and was hospitalized for almost three weeks. She filed a negligence lawsuit against the casino in late May, but passed away soon after. "We will be amending the lawsuit," Catuara's attorney asserted, "alleging a wrongful death count."
According to her original lawsuit, Catuara was in the "vestibule area" leaving Harrah's "when the previously opened door quickly closed on her." She was thrown to the ground and "sustained severe injuries and has incurred substantial medical bills and other economic damages along with pain, suffering and loss of a normal life, disfigurement and other non-economic damages."
As a business open to the public, Harrah's has the legal responsibility to take reasonable steps to assure the safety of the premises. Instead, according to Catuara's attorney James McKay, Jr., the hydraulic door-closer at the casino "was broken, creating an unsafe condition for patrons exiting the premises."
McKay told the Joliet Patch that the injuries Catuara sustained at Harrah's "absolutely played a significant role in causing her death":
"It's just so sad for everyone related to her and connected to her," McKay said. "We're talking about a significant decline in her health from the moment that door struck and knocked Elaine to the floor. Elaine's survivors are entitled to be compensated due to the negligence of Harrah's Joliet Casino."
In order to win a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove:
Catuara's original lawsuit sought an unspecified amount of damages to cover medical bills along with pain and suffering. An amended suit including a wrongful death claim may ask for more.