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Woman says she experienced pain since accident

February 14, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The broken metal crossbar of a swing set lay on the floor in front of the jury box this week in Franklin County Court, evidence in a trial in which a woman is suing the Borough of Waynesboro (Pa.) for injuries she received in an accident at Memorial Park more than five years ago.

Joleen Brubaker, 28, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., is seeking damages for medical bills, loss of future income, and pain and suffering from the July 15, 2001, accident in which the crossbar broke while she was on the swing set, according to her attorney, James Stein.

The suit states that the borough was negligent because it failed to maintain the swing set, Stein said.

"The condition that caused this thing to fall was not something we knew about or should have known about," Kent Price, the attorney for the borough, said Tuesday. The rusted portion of the crossbar was within a coupling and could not be seen prior to it breaking, he said.

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Brubaker, who lived in Canada at the time, was in Waynesboro to attend the wedding of a friend from college, she testified Monday.

"I just remember walking down the hill" toward the park, Brubaker testified of her last memory before the accident. She testified that she could not remember anything until a few days later, when she was back in Canada.

Brubaker testified she experiences headaches "five or six times" a week and that medical tests "confirmed that I have brain damage from the injury." She also testified she had difficulties functioning at her job and that she has not been able to pursue her goal of earning a master's degree.

Paul A. Anderson, a psychologist and vocational expert, testified Tuesday that Brubaker's injuries have likely shortened her "working life expectancy" and her earnings capacity, although he did not characterize her disability as severe.

Anderson testified her lost future earnings at between $421,000 and $662,000.

Dave Shaw of Monroe, N.Y., who was among the group of friends from the wedding that went to the park, testified that Brubaker was unconscious or semiconscious for about a minute after the accident. Shaw said he observed swelling and discoloration above her right eye and that she appeared to be bleeding from the scalp.

All of Monday's and Tuesday's testimony was by witnesses for the plaintiff. The trial before Judge Carol Van Horn is scheduled to last until the end of the week.

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