$13.1 Million Verdict for Ultramarathon Runner After Devastating Fall on Seattle Sidewalk

Seattle, WA — In a significant legal decision, a King County jury has awarded $13.1 million to Lesley Mettler Auld, a 53-year-old ultramarathon runner, who sustained severe injuries due to a fall on a faulty Seattle sidewalk in 2021. The verdict holds the city of Seattle and the owners of a nearby apartment building jointly responsible for the damages incurred.

Mettler Auld, a professional fitness coach known for her endurance in ultramarathons—races extending beyond the standard marathon length—suffered this life-changing injury while traversing a treacherous patch of sidewalk in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. Her fall resulted in significant damage to her quadriceps, necessitating multiple surgeries, her attorneys stated.

The challenges Mettler Auld has faced since her accident are profound. According to her, daily tasks have become trials. “Today, fully 34 months since the fall, I still have to pull myself up the stairs in my house on my hands and knees,” Mettler Auld disclosed. Her career as an ultramarathon athlete, marked by participation in numerous events, has been starkly halted.

The sidewalk where the fall occurred was reportedly perpetually covered in water and algae, creating a hazardous condition that had been a known issue, the lawsuit claimed. Testimonies from other residents, who have similarly fallen in the same location, underscored the recurring danger posed by this neglected stretch of pavement.

The city attorney’s office spokesperson declined to comment on the jury’s decision.

This case highlights a critical issue in urban infrastructure maintenance and the responsibilities city officials and property owners have toward ensuring public safety. Sidewalks, often overlooked, are essential components of urban mobility and safety, requiring regular inspection and maintenance to prevent such incidents.

The substantial compensation awarded in this case reflects the severity of Mettler Auld’s injuries and underscores the jury’s acknowledgment of the preventable nature of the accident. As cities continue to grow and pedestrian traffic increases, the importance of maintaining such public pathways remains paramount to prevent future injuries.

Not only does this case shed light on the potential legal liabilities cities and property owners face, but it also serves as a cautionary tale of the personal and professional tolls an individual may endure due to urban negligence. Moving forward, both legal and city planning experts have cited the necessity for municipalities to invest in better infrastructure care and to adhere to safety regulations stringently to avoid similar lawsuits and to ensure the well-being of its residents.