MCCALL, Idaho -- A Caldwell woman is seeking $25,000 from the government after she was hurt in a fall outside a ranger station while looking at snow sculptures during the 2016 McCall Winter Carnival.
Attorneys for Ginny Seegmiller filed the lawsuit in federal court Monday.
In the filing, Seegmiller argues the United States Department of Agriculture, which operates the ranger station, negligently failed to remove the ice from the property around the station. As a result, walking paths around the station were "abnormally and dangerously slippery," the complaint alleges.
EVENT GUIDE: 2018 McCall Winter Carnival
The ranger station had been chosen as a site for some of the popular snow sculptures that are put up around McCall during the festival. The station's display featured Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl pulling a downed Christmas tree on a sled, along with a model of the U.S. Capitol.
Seegmiller's suit claims the USDA knew placing the sculpture at the station would draw visitors to their property.
"Despite this knowledge, the UDSA failed to take reasonable steps and precautions to eliminate the slippery conditions," the suit reads.
Snow sculptures at the McCall ranger station 2016
The paths were so slick, Seegmiller says, that even after she fell and was injured, paramedics had to put down salt or cat litter on the ground in order to safely get her to an ambulance.
The complaint also alleges the USDA had not put up any signs warning of the slipperiness, and stresses that Seegmiller did not lose her balance "on mere snow," but on ice the USDA had not shoveled or salted away.
"The dangerous and slippery conditions that existed at the ranger station were beyond what would be reasonably expected at a public event, even during a winter carnival," the filing reads.
As a result of the agency's negligence, the plaintiff's lawyers allege, Seegmiller was left with medical bills, loss of earnings and future wages, and emotional damages.
Seegmiller's attorney, Nathan Gamel of Skaug Law, said his client needed surgery for her injuries, and is still going through treatment two years later.
He said he does not take most slip-and-fall cases potential clients call him about, but the dangerous conditions outside the ranger station set Seegmiller's case apart.
"It wasn't just icy, it wasn't just what you would expect walking down the road," he said.
Gamel added that he and his client had originally wanted to resolve the case without a lawsuit, but decided to file the complaint in federal court after the USDA did not respond to a tort claim filed more than a year ago.
The USDA has not yet responded to the complaint. The McCall Ranger Station declined to comment Tuesday.
Gamel says the suit will either conclude in a settlement with USDA, or move forward to a jury trial.