San Juan County couple sues Farmington eatery

Plaintiffs seek unspecified damages for January 2016 incident

Noel Lyn Smith

FARMINGTON — A Farmington cafeteria is being sued by a customer who claims she sustained injuries after tripping on an uneven floor tile.

San Juan County residents Carmelita Shay and Winston Cole filed a civil lawsuit in the Eleventh Judicial District Court on March 30 against Furr's Fresh Buffet and its operator, Food Management Partners, and the location's general manager, Debbie Jones, for an incident that allegedly occurred in 2016.

According to the complaint, on Jan. 20, 2016, Shay was walking with a tray of food to a table when she tripped on the floor tile inside the restaurant at 3030 E. Main St.

Shay alleges in the complaint that she suffered pelvic fractures and injuries to her neck, head and back because of the fall.

The injuries have caused her to incur medical expenses, physical pain and emotional distress, as well as suffer a loss of income and keep her from participating in hobbies, activities and recreation, according to the complaint.

The complaint states Shay and Cole have been in a relationship for 23 years and that the incident caused Cole damages, including loss of spousal companionship.

A specific amount of compensation is not listed in the complaint, but it asks the court to set "a reasonable amount," plus legal costs and additional relief the court deems just and proper.

The couple's attorney, Victor Titus, could not be reached for comment.

Jones, the general manager, referred questions to Food Management Partners, which did not respond to a request for comment. Furr's is a division of Food Management Partners.

The complaint also alleges that Furr's management knew about the uneven floor tile, and failed to repair it and warn customers about its condition.

It also alleges that defendants disposed of or altered evidence relevant to the lawsuit because they knew Shay and Cole had filed the claim and had requested photos, surveillance video and other reports about the incident.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.