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Claim dismissed against Ocean City in beach umbrella lawsuit

OCEAN CITY — A judge has dismissed Ocean City from a federal lawsuit over a beach umbrella getting caught in the wind and impaling a woman.

The lawsuit filed in June 2021 claimed that negligence on the part of the town and the rental company that owned the umbrella led to Jill Mendygral’s injuries, The Daily Times reported.

A judge granted a motion to dismiss the claim against Ocean City on Jan. 13 but extended the chance for the plaintiff to file an updated complaint with more details.

Facts shared in the judge’s opinion show that Mendygral, of Pennsylvania, was on the beach in 2018 when a wind advisory was in effect. An umbrella “became dislodged from the sand and (flew) into the air, violently stabbing Plaintiff in her chest,” according to the document.

She was taken to a hospital for emergency surgery, and the lawsuit claimed she was left with “severe and permanent injuries.”

The lawsuit argued that Ocean City was aware of the risks related to open beach umbrellas amid heavy wind but didn’t warn beachgoers.

A judge sided with the town, which said it was protected by governmental immunity and “owed no duty of care to plaintiff” under a provision that limits liability for landowners who make their property available for recreational use by the public.

While Ocean City can’t be sued directly in this instance, the judge’s opinion says a claim can be brought against an individual worker because Mendygral “alleges vicarious liability on the part of Ocean City for the acts of its employees.”

The judge has given the plaintiff 21 days to amend the complaint by either naming an individual or “John Doe” defendant.