The city of Savannah and Chatham Area Transit are being sued in two recent lawsuits over allegations that they were negligent in the collapse of a dock last year that resulted in injuries and millions in damages.
Couples Howard and Anne Redlus and Bruce and Karen Adams filed two civil lawsuits in the State Court of Chatham County April 26, according to Savannah Morning News.
John B. Manly, an attorney in Savannah, submitted ante litem notices to the city in January to inform of the victims’ intent to sue in compliance with Georgia law.
According to the notices obtained by Savannah Morning News, Manly claims that the two couples suffered nearly $2 million in damages in the crash that sent dozens of people into the Savannah River on Nov. 19.
The four people from South Carolina were waiting to board the ferry to Hutchinson Island on a city-owned dock on River Street, a dock that was being used by Chatham Area Transit at the time. However, the gangway disengaged and sent prospective passengers unexpectedly into the river.
Anne Redlus broke her ribs and suffered severe lacerations and several contusions. She spent weeks getting treatment.
“The full extent of her injuries are not known; however, it is likely that Mrs. Redlus will have permanent scarring from the injuries she sustained on her leg,” Manly wrote in the ante litem notice. Her damages were estimated to be around $1 million.
Howard Redlus had to receive physical therapy after suffering a shoulder injury in the collapse, which was estimated to be around $750,000.
The other couple suffered bruises and muscle strains. Damages for the two are claimed to have totaled around $1 million.
The lawsuits allege that the city and Chatham Area Transit were responsible for failing to provide safe and secure facilities and did not tell people to avoid waiting on the gangway.
Savannah Dock Collapse Led to 13 Hospitalizations
Just before 4 p.m. on Nov. 19, 55 people were standing on the gangway when it collapsed.
Witnesses and those who were on the ramp at the time called the whole incident “scary.”
“We first heard a lot of commotion,” Joseph Bilton, who was near the ramp, told Savannah Morning News that day. “We just heard people say ‘man overboard.’ They kept saying ‘man overboard. This is not a drill. It’s not a drill.’ A couple of our guys rushed out to help and saw they were just trying to pull people from the river.”
Savannah Fire and Emergency Services and the Southside Fire Department pulled people from the frigid Savannah River while some clung to the walls of the wharf. Thirty people were injured with 13 taken to the hospital for hypothermia and other injuries.
Master Firefighter Michael Curry collapsed at the scene from an unrelated medical condition while he was attempting to help stranded passengers. The 13-year fire department veteran was taken to Memorial University Medical Center where he later died.
New Lawsuits Follow Previous Suits Against Savannah and CAT
The lawsuits from the two couples are just the latest suits against the city over the River Street ramp collapse. In December, attorney Richard Middleton filed a joint civil lawsuit on behalf of Margaret Brantly and Tresa Wilson against Chatham Area Transit for its role in the collapse.
The lawsuit said “CAT also had the exclusive responsibility to maintain those structures and vessels in a safe working condition at all times, and to employ extraordinary diligence in discharging that responsibility,” according to WTOC News. It also said, “CAT has acted in bad faith, has been stubbornly litigious and has caused the plaintiffs unnecessary trouble and expenses.”
Ante litem notices were also submitted by attorney Brent Savage on behalf of Julie Potts. Savage is seeking $250,000 for several injuries suffered by Potts and damage to her property during the collapse.
The city and Chatham Area Transit have blamed one another for the ramp collapse. Neither has responded to requests for comments.
If you or a loved one has been injured, contact a personal injury attorney for a free case evaluation. Our team of legal professionals can help you determine who is at fault for the injury.