Parishioner may sue church

Published 8:25 am Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NEWSOMS—A parishioner of Newsoms United Methodist Church who filed a complaint against the church in circuit court says he did so to extend the statute of limitations for recouping medical expenses from a fall and indicated that he might not pursue the $1 million lawsuit.

“I fell and I had some injuries,” Sheldon Worrell Jr. said Tuesday. “I was hospitalized for a few months. But I now for all practical purposes have recovered. At this point I am OK.”

Worrell, a 64-year-old retired general practice attorney from Newsoms, said he didn’t remember what day he fell on the steps leading up to the church. He declined to reveal the nature or severity of the injuries he sustained from the fall.

James D. Hundley, an attorney with the Richmond law firm Hundley & Johnson, filed a complaint on behalf of Worrell in Southampton County Circuit Court on May 15. The complaint alleges Worrell “sustained serious and permanent injuries, has incurred and will incur in the future large sums for medical expenses in an effort to be cured of said injuries, has sustained loss of income and will in the future continue to lose income by virtue of being unable to work effectively in his profession.”

The complaint also alleges “the stairway and handrail leading to and from the entrance to the church (are) unsafe, improperly installed and not properly maintained.” It did not say which of the stairways or handrails leading into the church was involved in Worrell’s fall.

The two defendants named in the case, Minister Darwin Edwards and Trustee Beale Carter Jr., have not been served. Both declined to comment on the matter.

“I filed (the complaint) purely to prevent the statute of limitations from running out,” Worrell said. “I don’t anticipate at all that this is going to result in any court action. Obviously I could not tell you that it won’t, but I do not anticipate by any means that it will.”

Worrell said he has been a member of the church “for some time” and still attends there when he can.

“I felt like this (complaint) was what was best for my family and myself,” he said. “There may be some medical expenses that the insurance company may or may not take care of, who knows.”