Woman who drove off parking garage suing for $1M

Driver says parking garage operators failed to take measures to keep customers safe

BMW that fell off 7th floor of downtown Austin parking garage on July 13, 2017. (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)
BMW that fell off 7th floor of downtown Austin parking garage on July 13, 2017. (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The woman who drove off of the seventh story of a downtown Austin parking garage last month is suing the owner of the garage and its management.

In the lawsuit filed Wednesday, Christi Bowmer is seeking more than $1 million in damages after suffering “physical injuries, physical pain, physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish and medical expenses.” The suit also asserts that Bowmer’s husband, Jay Bowmer—who was not in the car—has also suffered serious damages from the crash, including “mental anguish, lost earnings.”

Bowmer says her foot slipped off of the brake and hit the gas, causing her BMW to go through the cable barriers that run along the open-air edges of the Littlefield Garage on July 13. It landed on an SUV parked in an alley on Brazos Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets.

“I went through like paper,” Bowmer said. “I mean, my nose of the BMW, I saw it going right as I parked, over the edge, and I was like, ‘Holy Toledo! There’s nothing here!’ And I freaked out and went to slam on the brake, and I hit the gas and I was gone. I mean, I went straight through those cables like they were nothing.”

The lawsuit claims that Bowmer could have lost her life because GTT Parking, L.P., Premier Parking of Tennessee, LLC and Weitzman Management Corporation failed to safely maintain the garage, even after a similar accident occurred less than a year before.

“This already happened once,” Bowmer said, “And they didn’t do anything. They rolled the dice.”

The suit alleges the defendants knew the garage wasn’t safe and ignored laws that require parking garage owners to provide proper barriers to keep drivers safe, stating the cable barrier was “dangerous, dilapidated, and in need of serious upgrade and repair at various locations within the garage” at the time of Bowmer’s crash.

“Parking garage owners know that accidents take place in their parking garage,” said Randy Howry, Bowmer’s attorney. “This owner knew it for sure. It had happened just a few months before. And when they have that information, they need to make it safe. And in this case, having cables strung across that are over 40 years old, it was not a safe place.”

Since Bowmer’s accident, those who run the parking garage have put up temporary barriers. The owners are also looking into redesigning the entire cable system. Earlier this month, Austin Code said since the deadline to get the garage into code compliance was at the end of August, the owner will need to file an extension, to accommodate the redesign.

Bowmer says she hopes her case will prevent the same thing from happening to other drivers in the future. “I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody else. I’m going to live with this for the rest of my life, with rods in my back and it’s just horrific. To have this happen to anybody else, it’s just not acceptable.”

Bowmer is requesting a trial by jury.

Both Premier Parking of Tennessee, LLC and Weitzman Management Corporation declined to comment on the lawsuit. GTT Parking, L.P. did not respond to calls for comment.

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