Owners of downtown Hilo McDonald’s sued

HILO — A Hilo woman’s estate has sued the owners of the downtown Hilo McDonald’s for allegedly causing a fatal fall in 2016.

According to a wrongful death lawsuit filed Tuesday, the estate of former Hilo resident Elizabeth DePonte has sued the owners of the McDonald’s location on Kinoole Street after unsafe conditions outside the building caused DePonte’s death when she fell and struck her head on the restaurant’s tile patio on April 1, 2016. DePonte was 90 years old.

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The suit alleges that DePonte crossed the drive-through lane on foot before approaching the business’ front entrance on foot, holding onto a rail on the restaurant’s patio for balance. However, before DePonte could enter the restaurant, her path was impeded by a 6-foot-tall cardboard Monopoly advertising board, part of a promotion for McDonald’s and Hasbro.

Attempting to circumnavigate the obstacle, DePonte reportedly let go of the railing and walked past the board, gripping the board as she did so. Doing so, however, caused the board to topple, which in turn caused DePonte to lose her balance and fall, striking her head on the tile surface of the patio.

DePonte’s injury was severe enough to cause significant external bleeding as well as a subdural hematoma, according to the lawsuit. Although she was quickly transported to Hilo Medical Center, her condition degraded rapidly and she was pronounced dead later that day.

The suit accuses the defendants — specifically, McDonald’s USA LLC; the owner of the Kinoole McDonald’s branch, Hawaii Five Stars Inc.; McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii Inc.; and McDonald’s Corp. — of negligence, having failed to properly maintain an obstacle-free entrance to the property or minimize the risk of falls.

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The suit demands an undisclosed amount of damages be paid to DePonte’s estate.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.