A jury recently awarded about $315,000 to a woman whose fall during a service led to a falling-out with her former church and pastor.
Judith Dadd, 52, of Lansing, accused Mount Hope Church of negligence and its pastor, David R. Williams, of defamation. In her civil lawsuit filed in July 2005, she contended the church was responsible for injuries she suffered three years earlier and that Williams damaged her reputation by suggesting she faked the injury.
Dadd claimed that during a church rally on July 18, 2002, she went to the altar and was “overcome by the Spirit of the Lord.” She said she fell backward and struck her head on the floor, but the church was negligent because no usher was there to catch her.
Dadd met with church officials a few months after the fall and asked for $5,000 to help cover her medical expenses, the church’s property manager testified last week.
The request raised “red flags,” Patrick Fox said, because Dadd’s request was for the maximum the church’s insurance policy would pay for an injury on its premises. Fox, a former insurance adjuster, said most people would not be aware of the $5,000 policy limit.
Dadd is a district sales coordinator for insurer AFLAC, the Lansing State Journal reported.
Dadd also claimed Williams slandered her by writing a letter to members of a church prayer group in which he suggested Dadd was attempting to commit insurance fraud.
The Eaton County Circuit Court jury deliberated about 101/2 hours before announcing its award Thursday, May 10th.
Dadd was vindicated by the verdict, said one of her attorneys, Richard Rashid. “She had to live with this litigation for two years,” he said. “And she was proven to be right.”
Williams declined to comment. But his attorney, Randolph Bodwin, said he wasn’t entirely disappointed with the award.
“Considering she was asking for $1.65 million, I think this is a pretty clear expression the plaintiff’s case was exaggerated,” Bodwin said, adding there was a “good chance” the verdict would be appealed.
Dadd, who was a member of the church for 12 years, claims she still suffers from the effects of the fall, including symptoms of depression, memory loss and difficulty concentrating.
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