Impaled Woman Files Civil Suit Against Umbrella Vendor, City

Impaled Woman Files Civil Suit Against Umbrella Vendor, City
A crowded Ocean City beach is pictured with a variety of umbrellas in the sand. File Photo

OCEAN CITY — Nearly three years after the incident, a Pennsylvania woman impaled in the chest by a flying umbrella last week filed suit against the town of Ocean City and the beach equipment rental operator.

In July 2018, Pennsylvania resident Jill Mendygral was impaled in the chest by an umbrella that had become dislodged from the sand and thrown through the air by a wind gust. Last week, Mendygral, through her attorneys, filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court alleging negligence against the two named defendants, the town of Ocean City and the beach equipment rental company 85 N Sunny, LLC. The suit seeks damages in excess of $75,000 against each of the named defendants.

Around 3:1 p.m. on July 22, 2018, Ocean City first-responders were dispatched to the beach at 54th Street after a gust of wind dislodged an unattended rental umbrella and sent it tumbling down the beach where it impaled Mendygral. The point of the wood-shaft umbrella hit the victim, who was sitting in a beach chair, and pierced her skin in the upper left chest below the collarbone. Ocean City Beach Patrol Surf Rescue Technicians (SRTs) quickly responded and, with the help of bystanders, secured the blowing umbrella while the first SRT on the scene began rendering aid and keeping the victim calm.

Ocean City Fire Department and EMS personnel arrived quickly and took over first-aid measures. Ocean City Fire Department personnel cut the umbrella’s wooden pole to facilitate taking the victim from the beach to awaiting paramedics. The victim was transported from the beach by Ocean City EMS and was transported to a designated medevac pad at 32nd Street via ambulance.

She was transferred to the Maryland State Police medevac helicopter and taken to now-TidalHealth Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, where she underwent emergency surgery. The suit filed last week outlines the timeline of the incident and the injuries and suffering Mendygral allegedly did and continues to endure.

“On the aforementioned date, while the plaintiff was enjoying her first day of vacation at the beach, suddenly and without warning, a beach umbrella became dislodged from the sand and into the air, violently stabbing the plaintiff in her chest,” the complaint reads. “The plaintiff was taken via helicopter following the incident to the hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery to remove the umbrella that had stabbed her and became dislodged in her chest.”

The complaint alleges both defendants had a duty of care to ensure the beach was safe on that fateful Sunday afternoon.

“At all times hereto, the defendants were collectively and/or individually responsible for the care of the beach, including adequately monitoring the forecast and wind gusts and folding umbrellas in the downward position so they are unable to become dislodged from the sand, ensuring the safety of those lawfully using the beach, including the plaintiff,” the complaint reads. “At all times hereto, the plaintiff was conducting herself in a reasonable manner and in no way assumed the risk of harm or was contributorily negligent.”

The complaint outlines the alleged negligence on the part of the town of Ocean City, including allowing a dangerous and hazardous condition to exist where the defendant knew individuals, including the plaintiff, would be present and where the defendant knew, or should have known, it constituted a hazardous or dangerous condition.

The complaint also alleges the town failed to warn of the dangerous and hazardous condition which the defendant knew or should have known existed by leaving umbrellas opened during unsafe conditions or otherwise failing to take the necessary precautions. The complaint also alleges the town was negligent for failing to inspect the beach while a wind advisory was in effect.

The complaint includes many of the same basic claims of negligence against the rental operator, 85 N Sunny, as it does against the town of Ocean City, with a few variances. For example, the claims of negligence against 85 N Sunny blames the operator for “consciously choosing to leave the beach umbrellas open during a wind advisory when the defendant knew, or should have known, that doing so posed an unjustifiably high risk of serious injury,” and “failing to appreciate the unjustifiably high risk of injury to others by failing to close beach umbrellas while a wind advisory was in effect.”

The suit asserts as a result of the defendants’ negligence, Mendygral suffered severe and permanent injuries including, but not limited to, a chest would requiring surgery, radiating back pain, pelvic pain, recurring numbness in her arm and hand, fevers, adjustment disorder, anxiety and depression. It also describes ongoing medical bills, loss of wages and a “substantial loss of enjoyment of life.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.