Three women file lawsuits after crash at Plant City police motorcycle demonstration
By Jessica Vander Velde, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Friday, July 3, 2009
TAMPA — Three women injured after a Plant City police motorcycle careened into the bleachers where they were sitting filed lawsuits Thursday, alleging they should have been warned of the dangers at the law enforcement demonstration.
They’re each suing the city and the Plant City Chamber of Commerce. All are seeking compensation for their medical bills and losses.
On Nov. 18, the three women were among a group from the Plant City Chamber of Commerce’s leadership class that was in the bleachers when Officer Chad Rader gave a motorcycle demonstration.
A crash report states that another officer clocked Rader at 37 mph as he rode toward the bleachers. He applied the brakes, but the front wheel locked and he skidded, the report stated. He slammed into the audience.
Lynn Connor and Pamela Knight, both of Plant City, and Charity Freeman of Valrico were taken to a hospital.
Connor seemed to suffer the most extensive injuries, remaining in the hospital for a week. She underwent several surgeries on her right leg.
Knight was released with stitches and a boot for her left foot but readmitted when she complained of intense pain.
Freeman’s left knee was bandaged and she was released the same day, according to doctors’ reports given to Plant City’s attorney, Tom Scarritt.
However, recent developments indicate that all three may have suffered much greater injuries than they initially reported.
Connor was readmitted to the hospital last week with an infection she says is related to the accident. She says doctors also say she has complex regional pain syndrome, a chronic disorder diagnosis that is controversial in the medical community.
Connor, owner of Tip to Toe Day Spa & Gifts in Plant City, used to lead local events, but she says it has been tough trying to get back to her busy lifestyle.
“It was a blow, the whole thing, trying to learn to live in the new limits of my injury,” she said from the hospital last week.
According to a medical claim filed June 10 with Scarritt, Freeman complained of pain in her eye three weeks after being injured, and she said she recalled having migraines and nausea after the accident. The claim states she underwent brain surgery relating to these issues Feb. 16, Scarritt said.
Knight’s claim, filed June 5, states she has undergone another surgery on her right ankle.
Attempts to reach Freeman and Knight were unsuccessful. A message left with chamber president Marion Smith was unreturned.
Scarritt said the city hoped to go to mediation to settle the issue, but when he got the claims, he said he realized they’d most likely have to go to court.
Times staff writer Victoria Bekiempis and researcher John Martin contributed to this report.