Overnight guest's bathroom trip leads to fatal fall and a lawsuit
By JASON SCHREIBER Union Leader Correspondent
A Derry man is suing a Bartlett couple, claiming his wife suffered a fatal fall while staying at their house when she mistakenly opened a cellar door while trying to find the bathroom.
David Stack is suing James and Judith Nolan over the Oct. 31, 2016, death of his wife, Karen Lalor-Stack.
According to the suit filed last month in Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood, Lalor-Stack was invited to the Nolans’ Bartlett home along with others and slept over on the night of Oct. 30, 2016.
The suit claims that at some point Lalor-Stack got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, which was located near a cellar door. Lalor-Stack opened what she thought was the door to the bathroom, but it turned out to be the door to the cellar. The suit said she suffered a “severe fall” that resulted in her death.
According to her obituary, Lalor-Stack, 60, died at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She worked as a nurse at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston for more than 30 years, the obituary said.
The suit, filed through Stack’s Manchester attorney, Edward Moquin, accuses the Nolans of negligence, claiming they failed to maintain the house in a “reasonably safe condition, free of hazards that would pose an unreasonable risk of harm to their invitees.”
Stack argues that having a bathroom door in close proximity to the basement door presented an “unreasonable risk of harm to those who would be staying over should they need to use the bathroom at night,” the suit said.
He also claims that steps should have been taken to eliminate the hazard, including locking the cellar door and having an automatic light or exterior light switch for light in the basement, along with a stairway that conformed to all codes with appropriate railings.
Stack is seeking a jury trial.
Moquin said he could not comment further, as the case is pending.
The Nolans have not yet filed a response to the suit and could not be reached for comment.