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Dearborn woman files lawsuit over drunken hayrideNiraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press Published 11:00 p.m. ET May 3, 2015
(Photo: Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Press)
When Cynthia Cialone and her friends decided to go for a hayride at camp in Milford in fall 2013, they expected a fun romp through the fields owned by the City of Dearborn.
But what Cialone, 52, and others experienced was a hellish ride, they said, as the drunken driver took a sharp right turn, tipping over the wooden wagon and sending Cialone, her daughter, and several others catapulting from the wagon.
In March, Cialone and her daughter filed a lawsuit against the City of Dearborn, asking for $25,000 in damages. In April, the city fired back, saying that Cialone is actually responsible for any liability because she signed a hold harmless agreement on behalf of a group she was with, the Henry Ford Community College Support Staff Association. The city is asking a judge to dismiss the lawsuit and is seeking attorneys costs and fees.
The tiff has soured Cialone and others on Camp Dearborn, a 626-acre site in Oakland County created by the late Mayor Orville Hubbard as a summer playground for the working class, a place he dubbed the "citizens' country club."
It's rare for a city the size of Dearborn to run such a camp. About 35 miles north of Dearborn, it's a place many enjoy in summer and fall.
But the dispute has pitted some longtime Dearborn residents against a city they say is not admitting its mistake in the Oct. 27, 2013, incident. In addition to Cialone's claim, five other lawsuits have been filed on behalf of others who were on the hayride.
"One incident ended my years of pleasure" at Camp Dearborn, said Cialone, a payroll specialist at Henry Ford Community College. "I was angry beyond words."
About 5 p.m. the day of the incident, Cialone, her 11-year-old daughter and about a dozen others hopped on the four-wheel wooden wagon for a hayride.
The driver, Adam Forehand, had been drinking that afternoon at a nearby tavern to celebrate his birthday, according to the lawsuit filed by Southfield attorney Lee Turner in March. Forehand, 28, of Highland Township was a city employee who had worked there for about a year.
Forehand downed a Long Island iced tea at the tavern about 11:30 a.m., went back to work, and then at 2 p.m. returned to knock back a fireball shot, rum & Coke, and a tall glass of beer, the lawsuit said.
He stopped drinking about 4 p.m. to prepare for the 5 p.m. hayride, according to the suit.
Riding down a hill, Forehand made "a sharp right," and the wagon tipped over and "threw all of us out," Cialone recalled.
Forehand had a blood alcohol level of 0.06%, which is 0.02% less than the amount required to be considered legally intoxicated. Originally charged with reckless driving, he pleaded no-contest last year to a reduced charge of impaired driving, a deal that called for him having his driver's license restricted for 90 days, according to the Associated Press.
Cialone said she fractured three ribs, injured her neck and suffered contusions, bruises and abrasions on other parts of her body. Her daughter suffered injuries to her arm, shoulder and other areas.
"I still have issues with my ribs ... sharp pains" when I move, she said.
Compounding her pain is the response from the City of Dearborn. Last month, the city filed a response and counter-claim against Cialone. They noted that she had signed a hold harmless agreement, which they said immunized the city from any liability. The form was signed by Cialone on behalf of the Henry Ford Community College Support Staff Association.
Filed April 7, the counterclaim says that the association said "Cialone was without authority" to sign the agreement for the association. Therefore, the city says, Cialone is now personally liable for the incident.
The association did not return calls seeking comment.
The countersuit outraged Cialone.
"There was an error by their employee, and now they're laying blame on someone who was injured," she said. "That's horrible."
Attorney Turner said: "It's outlandish. I can't believe they did this."
The case has been assigned to Oakland County Circuit Judge Rudy Nichols. The several lawsuits that were filed may be consolidated, Turner said.
Contact Niraj Warikoo: email@example.com or 313-223-4792. Follow him on Twitter @nwarikoo.
Once again we have a government agency that will not take responsibility for what they did.
Signing a waver that let's be honest very few people will read and then allowing a drunk to drive a hayride did not say in the Wavier
"We Allow Drunks To Drive A Hayride"
This should have never gone this far.