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Strasburg woman and Food Lion settle suit

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

A Strasburg woman's lawsuit against Food Lion has been dismissed from federal court after an undisclosed settlement was reached.

Ellen E. Sager, of Colley Block Road, filed a $3 million suit against the grocery store last fall. In it, she states she fell and seriously damaged her knee after stepping in water leaked from a refrigeration unit.

U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski dismissed her suit with prejudice on Monday, according to online court records.

According to www.uscourts.gov, a dismissal with prejudice means an identical suit cannot be filed later.

The parties involved have "compromised and settled" all matters between them, according to Urbanski's order.

There was no warning sign posted near the puddle when she slipped at Food Lion in November 2010, according to Sager's suit. She tore her meniscus and needed a total knee replacement, it states.

According to the complaint, when Sager told a cashier she had fallen, the employee told her she'd directed a colleague to clean up the water.

In an answer to the complaint filed last year, the store's lawyer argued that any injuries were caused by Sager's "own actions or inactions, or the actions or inactions of others over whom this Defendant exercises no control and for which it is not responsible at law."

In April, Urbanski ordered Sager to be examined by Dr. James Schwartz at Hess Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine PLC in Harrisonburg, according to court records.

The order also directed Schwartz to provide attorneys "a detailed report setting out his findings, including results of all tests made, diagnoses and conclusions."

A trial was scheduled for next week, according to online court records, but on June 27, Urbanski ordered the case -- at the request of both the plaintiff and the defendant -- referred to U.S. Magistrate Judge James G. Welsh for mediation. The order states any information that came out during mediation would be confidential, and "shall not be shared with any other officer of the court."

The settlement conference was held one month before the dismissal order was issued, according to court records.

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