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News / Northwest

Woman who fell awarded $13M

Seattle resident was injured on sidewalk known as dangerous

By David Kroman, The Seattle Times (TNS)
Published: June 21, 2024, 7:41pm

SEATTLE—A King County jury has ordered the city of Seattle and the owners of a Queen Anne apartment building to pay a 53-year-old ultramarathon runner $13.1 million after she fell and severely injured herself on a sidewalk in 2021.

Responsibility for the verdict is split roughly in half between the city and 14th & Dravus LLC, owners of the building.

The sum reflects the extent of Lesley Mettler Auld’s injuries and what they will mean for her life going forward. Mettler Auld is a professional fitness coach and has run dozens of marathons and ultramarathons, according to her lawyers with Dearie Law Group. Juries in personal injury cases take into account damages and future earning potential as part of their awarded amounts.

According to the complaint, Mettler Auld fell on a “notoriously dangerous” stretch of sidewalk on Dravus Street in the Queen Anne neighborhood. The sidewalk is “perennially covered in water and algae,” according to the complaint. Other Queen Anne residents testified in court that they had fallen at this location.

As a result of the fall, Mettler Auld severely damaged her quadriceps, leading to multiple surgeries to repair the damage.

“I am still struggling to accept that since my fall, I will never run again, and I struggle to walk simply,” Mettler Auld said in a news release Friday. “Today, fully 34 months since the fall, I still have to pull myself up the stairs in my house on my hands and knees.”

The city keeps insurance for claims and judgments against the city. As of 2019, that coverage was up to $60 million with a $6.5 million deductible.

Seattle also keeps a reserve pot of money to cover claims and judgments. That amount has grown in recent years to $37 million as the city has faced several large claims stemming from the protests of 2020.

The largest public settlement on record by the city was more than $65 million in 2019, paid to the family of a young lawyer who was hit in her car by a Seattle Fire Department ambulance.