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Fulton woman sues Festival of Lights organization

Fulton woman sues Festival of Lights organization

February 20th, 2019 by Jeff Haldiman in Local News

In this Dec. 20, 2018 file photo, dazzling lights are on display during the Capital City Festival of Lights at Binder Park.

Photo by Mark Wilson /News Tribune.

A Fulton woman has filed a civil lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court against organizers of the Capital City Festival of Lights in Binder Park, claiming negligence led to her injuring her leg while going through the holiday light display in December 2017.

Mary Byrd and her husband, William, filed the suit against Jeffrey Buker, executive director at Homemaker Health Care Inc., which is also named in the suit. Buker has led the efforts of volunteers to put up the lights in the park.

Columbia attorney Michael Campbell is representing the Byrds. There is no attorney listed for Buker and Homemaker Health Care.

Buker said the matter had been turned over to the insurance company for the festival, but that was the last he had heard about the case.

Buker told the News Tribune in December of last year that Homemaker Health Care saw the festival featuring an outdoor, drive-thru holiday light show as a project to improve the community, using volunteers to put up displays.

The cost is $20 per vehicle and $35 for buses. Money raised goes toward bettering the park and light show every year.

The Byrds' lawsuit claims there were no signs throughout the park instructing patrons to stay in their vehicles or warning of any dangers of exiting their vehicles to look at the displays. Campbell also said Buker and the volunteers should have taken care to make sure walking areas were clear and safe for people to travel on.

Campbell said the displays had black ropes affixed to the front of the displays to ensure the displays stayed erect. Due to the brightness of the displays, the ropes were invisible at night, he said.

Mary Byrd tripped on the unseen rope and fell to the ground causing "permanent and progressive injuries to her left ankle." Campbell said this also led to Byrd suffering scarring and disfigurement from surgery.

Campbell said Byrd will require further medical care due to the negligence shown by the volunteers.

The couple is asking for a judgment in excess of $50,000 for the damages they suffered.

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