Listen to a replay of AARP's latest Coronavirus Tele-Town Hall. Join us at 1 p.m. ET March 26 for our next event.
by Robin Gerber, AARP Bulletin, January 11, 2010
The Supreme Court of Mississippi agreed with a lower court decision that the city was negligent in Stewart’s fall and therefore liable for damages.
Then the Supreme Court judges reviewed evidence submitted by Stewart to establish the amount of damages that should be awarded as a consequence of the fall.
The court noted that the defendant—the city’s driver—is “obligated solely to safeguard against reasonable probabilities,” but the defendant does not have to anticipate every injury that might occur. So the city, the judges reasoned, was only liable for damages that occurred as a “natural and probable” result of Stewart’s fall. A stroke is a medical condition and would not be an anticipated result of Stewart hitting her head from a fall. The higher court ordered a new trial to determine damages but said that Stewart should not be compensated for injuries specifically related to her stroke.
By the time of the Supreme Court ruling in 2005, Otha Stewart had died. Her daughter, Emma Womack, carried the case forward. In 2007, the trial court, which initially heard the case, awarded Womack $250,000 in damages—the maximum allowed—for her mother’s fall.
The city is appealing.
What do you think of the verdict? Let us know in the Community Commentary below.
Robin Gerber is a lawyer and the author of Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her.
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Members save 5% on a monthly subscription.
Members save 30% off the first year of a World Explorer subscription.
Members save $65-$200 on round-trip tickets purchased online.
AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at