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Injury lawsuit filed against Grandview fair group

Another claim seeks more than $800,000 from city of Grandview

GRANDVIEW - A Prosser man says he was injured during a Cinco de Mayo rodeo on May 7, 2004, at the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo grounds in Grandview.

Now he is seeking a day in court via a personal injury suit he has filed against the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo organization.

Prosser resident Michael Stice and his attorney, Yakima-based Mariano Morales Jr., first filed the suit in Benton County Superior Court on Jan. 12, 2006. Stice could not be reached for comment.

"Mr. Stice was injured, gored by a bull," Morales Jr. contends. "Basically they didn't physically set up the grounds properly for the bulls."

He added, "Rodeo is a dangerous sport, there's a proper way to do them. They did not have the proper equipment."

Morales Jr. contends that the fair and rodeo grounds did not have the proper metal enclosure the bulls are kept in after a ride. He explained once in the restricted enclosure, which he called a "stripping shoot", the bulls are supposed to be unbuckled, then turned loose into another secure area.

According to Morales Jr., Stice was a volunteer for the stock contractor when he was injured.

Also originally named in the suit was Moon Broadcasting of Prosser, which is affiliated with radio station 101.7. Samuel Correa, who is also a defendant in the case, said he volunteered with the radio station to help out with the rodeo.

Other parties originally named were the City of Grandview Parks and Recreation Department and Rogelio Prieto.

According to Superior Court officials, the parks and recreation department and Moon Broadcasting were dismissed as defendants on May 25.

But in other action, Grandview is still possibly on the hook as the city received a separate claim for damages on Oct. 20.

Grandview City Administrator Scott Staples said the claim has been forwarded to the city's insurer, Washington Cities Insurance Authority, for consideration.

A court timeline shows there was an amended summons filed on Oct. 19 for complaint for damages. The claim, dated Oct. 13, states that Stice suffered a fractured right arm, a fractured left leg and bruises to his abdomen and chest as a result of the incident.

The claim against the city of Grandview seeks $56,768.86 for Stice's medical expenses and $750,000 for his pain and suffering, wage loss and disability.

The claim further contends that Stice was invited to the rodeo and was injured because of negligence in "keeping the premises reasonably safe."

The entire Country Park complex is owned by the city, which has a 50-year lease with the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo Association to operate a 3.6-acre portion of the grounds.

Though the claim against the city has a dollar figure, there is no specific amount attached to the lawsuit in Benton County Superior Court.

"We want to let a jury decide that," Morales Jr. said. Court records confirm that a $250 jury fee was paid in March.

Whether the fair and rodeo association is proved right or wrong in a potential trial, the legal process could ruin the organization, claims President Mike Bradshaw.

"Even if we win, the legal fees can mount quickly, particularly in a situation like this," Bradshaw contends. "If it goes very far it could very well bankrupt the fair organization."

He further claimed that "for a small, volunteer community fair organization like ours it's a real challenge to keep running."

Bradshaw also confirmed that the fair and rodeo organization had an "arrangement in the past where entities can rent portions of Country Park and the area in and around the rodeo grounds.

"We basically rent out the rodeo arena and they (the lessee) would have to bring in their own stock, shoots, fencing," Bradshaw said. "It's their event, we basically sign off on it."

As to the alleged incident which prompted the suit, Bradshaw said it happened before he joined the fair and rodeo board.

"There are rumors and speculation in the community," he said. "But I have no idea whether they are facts or not."

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