Injured in trip over stump, woman to collect $124K from St. Paul


The city of St. Paul is nearing a settlement with a Lake City, Minnesota woman who was injured when she tripped and fell over a short tree stump that was hidden by snow. The Pioneer Press reports the city council is scheduled to approve the $124,000 negotiated settlement on Wednesday.

The newspaper said that Judy Steffenhagen, 69, suffered "significant injuries and significant medical bills" after the 2011 accident. She was walking in downtown St. Paul to see a play at the Ordway Center when, as the lawsuit put it, "...she was caused to fall by a hidden tree stump in the middle of the sidewalk." The stump was in a circular tree well in the sidewalk, according to her attorney Jeremy Stevens said. The city had cut the tree, "...but a lip of 2 or 3 inches remained," the story said, masked by a dusting of snow.

Steffenhagen sustained "injuries to her body and nervous system" and "suffered great mental and physical pain and anguish," the lawsuit complaint said. The agreement indicates that part of the settlement will pay her outstanding medical bills.

Last month, Minnesota Lawyer reported that the city of St. Paul agreed to settle a lawsuit with a man who said a St. Paul police officer illegally searched his vehicle. Under the terms of the settlement proposal, the city would pay $7,500 to Clifton McWright and another $34,587 for his legal fees. The story said that during a 2012 stop, McWright, 25, said the officer ordered him out of his vehicle, handcuffed and searched him because the officer thought there was a firearm in the car. McWright and his lawyer argued the officer did not have probable cause for the search.

Earlier this year, the city also agreed to a $1 million settlement to the families of the St. Louis Park children involved in a landslide in Lilydale Regional Park, which they were visiting on a school field trip. Haysem Sani, 9, and Mohamed Fofana, 10, were killed in the 2013 accident. The settlement granted their families $400,000. The family of Devin Meldahl, 10, who suffered skull, leg and rib fractures, was set to receive a $200,000 settlement.

The St. Louis Park school district also arrived at a settlement with the three families. The amount was not disclosed. The family of a 12-year-old boy who drowned in a St. Louis Park school swimming pool in February has also filed a personal injury lawsuit against the school district.

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