Family considering legal action following parking lot accident

Shawn Hayward
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A man from Come by Chance is considering legal action against the Town of Clarenville after his mother was injured in a fall on the town-owned parking lot at the Clarenville Shopping Centre.

Pearl Boutcher, an 83-year-old woman from Come by Chance, was on her way to a doctor’s appointment on Monday, March 11, at around 1.15 p.m. when, according to her son, a leg of her walker fell into a crevasse in the lot. She lost her balance and fell, hitting her face on the ground.

An ambulance was called to take her to the hospital in Clarenville.

Her son, David, was with her when the accident happened. He says she had a terrible gash on her face that exposed the bone underneath. Doctors used several stitches to close the wound. Her face was also badly bruised.

Later that night, town workers began filling potholes in the parking lot. Deputy Mayor Frazer Russell, chair of the public works committee, told the Packet he heard about the accident unofficially but the decision to repair the holes had nothing to do with what happened to Boutcher.

“The condition deteriorated to the point where it became a safety issue,” he said.“Whether we like it or not, the Town of Clarenville is owner of that parking lot. With ownership comes moral and legal responsibilities. It deteriorated to the point where it became a safety issue, so we decided to do something about it.”

Boutcher says he’s skeptical the decision to fill the holes had nothing to do with his mother’s fall. He is seeking legal advice about a possible lawsuit against the town.

“The timing is very suspicious,” he said of the decision to fix the holes. “I think it’s very convenient, but I’m happy they are (repairing the holes), because I’m hoping it’s not going to happen to anyone else.”

Boutcher moved from Ontario less than a month ago to look after his mother and he says he couldn’t believe the state of the parking lot when he saw it.

“It’s really difficult to understand how they could let it get like that with the amount of traffic in the area,” he said.

The Town of Clarenville and business owners of the Clarenville Shopping Centre have been negotiating for years on parking lot ownership. While the town owns the land, it has been allowing the shopping centre to use it for parking for decades. The town wants the shopping centre to take over the property.

The two groups have been planning to meet since at least before Christmas but the meeting was postponed several times due to scheduling conflicts.

Meanwhile, residents have used media to complain about the state of the parking lot, and contacted town councilors directly.

Deanna Burns, a resident of Shoal Harbour who uses the shopping centre, told The Packet in its Feb. 28 edition that she feared for the safety of senior citizens who use the lot.

“We’ve got an aging population in this area,” she said. “Clarenville serves a larger population than it’s ever served before. The number of people who could step into one of those and break a leg or twist an ankle is unbelievable, really.”


Twitter: Shawn_M_Hayward

Organizations: Clarenville Shopping Centre, The Packet

Geographic location: Clarenville, Ontario, Port Blandford

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Recent comments

  • Lisa Hann
    November 26, 2013 - 13:42

    I also fell in this parking lot. The grocery buggy I was pushing to my car fell into a hole and I fell over the buggy. Very painful and I have scars on both my legs from the gashes. I'm also a senior with great mobility but no match for shoddy Neglected parking lots. Disgraceful shape. Step up and take ownership and do something about this. Court cases will be more expensive than tar!!

  • Tyler
    March 15, 2013 - 06:38

    SUE the pants off them buggers

  • Rebecca
    March 14, 2013 - 23:53

    I have lived here for four years and the holes and cracks have just gotten out of control. I always joked parts of our car were going to get lost in the black holes! Even worse though, I knew it was a matter of time before a terrible accident happened. This woman should of been able to get to her appointment in one piece. This is so sad and I hope she recovers quickly. Something should of been done long before now.

  • Angela
    March 14, 2013 - 19:53

    Why is it that people in power wait until someone gets hurt in these situations before taking action? The safety of the residents of your town should not be at the bottom of your priorities. Make the time to fix these problems. Ms. Boutcher did not deserve this.

  • wanda abbott
    March 14, 2013 - 15:38

    i would definately take this as a law suit , if this was anyone belonging to me , it would already be in progress, that parking lot was in conflict for years with the town of clarenville, and it takes something as aweful as this to get the council,s attention , it is rediclous, i hope your feeling better soon pearl, and i fully support your family in filing a law suit , sincerely , wanda .

  • Sara
    March 14, 2013 - 13:51

    This is a clear-cut Negligence case. She is considered an "invitee" under the Occupier's Liability Act. To prove the case there is a checklist: 1. A duty of care is owed. This is a definite: The duty of care owed by the occupier to an invitee is to take care to prevent injuries from hazards of which the occupier is aware and also those of which as a reasonable person he ought to be aware. (It would be impossible to deny such knowledge, I believe it's been featured in the Packet!?) 2. Standard of care is breached. This is the level of care which a reasonable person would take in the circumstances. ( Any reasonable person can ascertain that such a large pothole is potentially dangerous, and needed to be fixed) 3. Injury is caused ( confirmed by hospital) Who, of the owner of the store or of the shopping centre owner, is liable, is anothe question, which can be decided in court. Get a lawyer! It seems to me that our government and enforcement agencies have a habit of retroactive involvement rather than prevention. This shouldn't have happened. But now that it has, the least the wealthy parties responsible can do; is compensate this poor woman financially! And of course, apologize for her needless suffering.

  • Betty
    March 14, 2013 - 12:08

    This is so sad, I hate when someone get hurt especially older people, because it takes them so long to get better. Someone has to be responsible for this incident. This happens a lot on parking lots and also in Provincial and Private parks. People should take more responsibility for their place of business and make the place safe for customers to walk.

  • Trina
    March 14, 2013 - 10:13

    I almost stepped into a hole in the parking lot a couple of days ago. This hole was as big as my foot and very deep. It is outside the paint shop. Very dangerous!!!!

  • carol stanley
    March 14, 2013 - 10:01

    it,s not only the elderly who have fallen, a relative of mine who,s young and healthy stepped in a hole and fell causing injury to his face.time to get the ownership issue settled so it can be taken care of properly.

  • Pauline Spurrell
    March 14, 2013 - 09:32

    I would take this as far as possible if this was my Mom, make someone accountable. If no one is willing to claim ownership or responsibility for the parking lot at the 'Corner Mall', at the very least the town has the right to close it to public use due to hazardous conditions. I'm not surprised this happened, just that it hasn't happened or been made public before now. I'm sure there's been a few sprained ankles, and I know there's been many damaged tires and rims from the many 'holes to China' in that lot. Is it just me and my since of right and wrong, black and white, because I fail to understand the comfort those in the position to act get by choosing instead to sit on the point of a fencepost.The situation with this lot is despicable!

  • kc
    March 14, 2013 - 09:23

    obviously the businesses and the town are making profit from this property, how about everyone be responsible for a certian percentage

  • Steve D
    March 14, 2013 - 09:17

    I like how they say the repairs had nothing to do with the incident. Yeah, right. I’ve lived in C’ville all my life and remember how bad the parking lot was when the Chain Store and Nikki’s Nook was there. I have often avoided that shopping center because of the horrible and shameful state of the parking lot. Huge potholes, poorly designed angle parking, horrible snow clearing and dangerous sidewalks kept me away. I am aware of a few other accidents in that area and I think the victims here should take it to court and sue. Enough is enough!

  • Wavey Andrews
    March 14, 2013 - 08:28

    its about time someone did something about it. That parking lot have always been in terrible condition. It always takes an accident to get something done!! The timing is very suspicious. Why did it take them so long to repair it? If it was a safety issue, why did it take them so long to do something about it?? In my opinion if this lady didn't fall, the parking would still have the potholes. If Clarenville is such a growing and prosperous town, the parking lots should be up to safety standard at all times, not wait until some person injuries themselves, especially the seniors.

  • Mike Boutcher
    March 14, 2013 - 08:23

    I was horrified to hear that was my grandmother that had taken the fall and needed medical attention and I am happy to know that my father was there to help his mom and to know she was taken care of. But this is not a surprise to know that government or town officials only take action when something bad happens and they should be ashamed of themselves that my 83 year old grandmother had to be the victim.

  • Sheldon Williams
    March 14, 2013 - 08:20

    Absolutely Shameful!! This is disgusting to read especially when the article states “The condition deteriorated to the point where it became a safety issue”! Where have the councilors and business owners been the last number of months?? Obviously not picking up their mail or buying groceries or visiting the pharmacy, etc.!! This lot has been like an obstacle course for months and months with people dodging potholes and craters in their daily trips to the centre! In my opinion it has been a safety issue for way too long now and this poor woman has the bruises and scars to prove it! Totally ludicrous that this has happened and I hope whoever they determine is responsible for this parking lot is haunted by the image of the damage and hurt they have caused to this woman! This is heartbreaking and I would definitely support the family of Mrs. Boutcher in their fight for justice!!

  • TCH
    March 14, 2013 - 07:39

    Yes, I would say that the decision to finally fill in the holes came from Open line trying to contact them last Wednesday for answers. A lady had called in to Open Line, complaining about the poor conditions of the Corner Mall Parking lot. The lady further stated that if something does not soon get accomplished, she would shop elsewhere, so to avoid having to go on the parking lot at all. I know that she was not the only one of that mindset.