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Couple suing Charleston horse carriage company after wreck, reported injuries

Palmetto Carriage Works (WCIV)

Two people claiming they were seriously injured in a Charleston horse carriage wreck in 2016 have now sued the carriage company for negligence.

Anna and Leonard Mallardi filed separate lawsuits Wednesday against Palmetto Carriage Works, the company that owns and operates the carriage the Mallardis were riding on when they say they were injured.

The lawsuit claims Palmetto Carriage Works and its employee, Samantha Woodard, were negligent and reckless leading up to the July 17, 2016 crash on Tradd Street in Charleston.

Per the lawsuit, the Mallardis claim the carriage company is culpable for their injuries because it knew the carriage was unsafe, but didn’t adequately maintain or repair it.

The Mallardis also accuse Palmetto Carriage Works of failing to properly train Woodard, who the lawsuit goes on to claim was negligent for failing to maintain control of the carriage and for operating it at a “high and excessive rate of speed.”

The Mallardis say their injuries came when the front left wheel of the carriage “detached,” and Woodard lost control of the carriage. The carriage, drawn by two mules, wound up striking a brick façade and a fire hydrant along Tradd Street.

RELATED | Police: Carriage horses spooked, crashed into brick wall downtown

According to her lawsuit, Anna Mallardi claims she was thrown from the carriage by the impact with the bricks and hydrant, resulting in broken bones in her foot.

Meanwhile, Leonard Mallardi claims he fell to the pavement and suffered leg injuries while trying to get out of the carriage to help his wife. His lawsuit doesn’t elaborate upon exactly what injuries he suffered, other than to say injuries to one of his legs and a knee.

Woodard told a different story in her statement to police. A Charleston Police Department incident report shows Woodard claims the incident began when the rubber exterior of the wheel — not the wheel itself — detached.

According to police, Woodard said the sound of the metal wheel on the pavement after the rubber came off spooked the mules, causing them to start galloping and leading her to lose control of the carriage.

After the carriage crashed, police say Woodard told them she instructed all passengers to stay aboard the carriage. Police say Woodard told them Anna Mallardi ignored the instruction and jumped off the carriage, leading to her injury.

The police report makes no mention of Leonard Mallardi being injured.

Attorneys for the Mallardis claim they both suffered “severe disabling injuries mental anguish, emotional distress, disfigurement and other debilitating injuries” requiring surgeries and long-term medical care.

The suits also claim the Mallardis lost wages and future wages, and will endure future pain and suffering mental shock, emotional trauma, and mental anguish.”

Palmetto Carriage Works owner Tommy Doyle declined to comment Thursday on the lawsuit, saying it is company policy not to comment on pending litigation.

In a 2016 interview following the incident, Doyle said the company does have a training protocol for the rubber coming off the wheel of a carriage, but said even the most experience carriage animals will spook.

"Even your best trained animal, it's gonna startle," Doyle said. "It'll startle the driver. It'll startle anybody on the carriage -- it's like a bang."

A court hearing in the case has been set for October, 2018.

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