Woman settles lawsuit against Brookfield Zoo

Injured at dolphin show; terms of agreement not disclosed

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By BOB UPHUES

A Chicago woman who sued Brookfield Zoo for injuries sustained in a fall at a dolphin show in 2008 has won a settlement in the case. Court documents didn't reveal the terms of the settlement, which was ordered on Sept. 15.

Allecyn Edwards filed a lawsuit against the zoo in August 2009, claiming that she slipped and fell on a wet concrete walkway at a dolphin show. Court documents stated that Edwards incurred more than $25,000 in medical expenses as a result of her injuries, which stemmed from a fall on Aug. 20, 2008.

Edwards charged the zoo was negligent in failing to make sure the concrete deck around the dolphin pool was coated to prevent people from slipping and falling and that the zoo knew the water eroded the concrete surface and painted portions of the deck due to prior incidents at Brookfield Zoo and elsewhere, the suit stated.

In November 2009, the zoo asked a judge to dismiss the charges of negligence. In July 2010, the judge denied the motion to dismiss those counts and granted leave for Edwards to file a third amended complaint, which sought specifically to have the zoo's insurance carrier pay $15,000 to cover her medical expenses. The zoo, according to the suit, had a no-fault policy providing for medical coverage up to $15,000 to any individual injured on zoo property.

On Sept. 15, Judge James O'Hara ordered the case dismissed, "All costs having been paid and all matters in controversy for which said action was brought having been fully settled, compromised and adjourned."

Sondra Katzen, spokeswoman for the Chicago Zoological Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo, declined comment except to confirm that the zoo's attorney stated that the lawsuit had been settled. A call to Edwards' attorney was not returned.

A visit to a dolphin show by the Landmark in October found that while dolphins still splash plenty of water at spectators, the stairways and the concrete deck of the building are coated with what appears to be a textured, non-slip epoxy-type substance.

The Brookfield Zoo began a renovation of its Seven Seas Dolphinarium in September 2009 and reopened the exhibit in May 2010.

According to a zoo press release, "improvements to Seven Seas included upgrades to the water filtration system, installation of a new HVAC system, roof repairs, an expanded back deck space to allow for animal care needs, and a new liner system on all the pools."

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