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Teachers union leader sues over fall at Roundhouse

SANTA FE – The leader of a prominent New Mexico teachers union has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Legislature’s administrative arm, alleging that injuries she suffered in a fall down a Roundhouse staircase during the final days of last year’s legislative session were due to negligence.

Stephanie Ly, the president of the American Federation of Teachers-New Mexico, filed the lawsuit with her husband this week in state District Court in Santa Fe and is seeking damages to cover her past and future medical bills, among other things.

She claims in the lawsuit that she was hurt while walking down the Capitol stairs in February from the office of Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, to the House floor.

The offices for many state senators, including Ivey-Soto, are on the Roundhouse’s third floor, two levels up from the House and Senate floor.

Although the lawsuit does not describe exactly how the fall occurred, it alleges the injuries Ly suffered were due to hazardous conditions and the Legislative Council Service’s negligence in failing to adequately “maintain” the stairway.

Ly’s attorney, Bruce Thompson of Albuquerque, said Wednesday that he could not provide additional details about the incident. A top official with the Legislative Council Service said he could not provide more information either.

New Mexico’s tort claims law, which sets rules over how and when government agencies can be sued, mandates that lawsuits against state government entities must be filed within two years of an injury-causing incident. The most that state government can be required to pay under a judgment or settlement is $300,000 for medical bills and a total of $750,000 for other losses, including lost wages.

Ly was a vocal critic of many of the education initiatives pushed by former Gov. Susana Martinez, including a teacher evaluation system that used students’ standardized test scores and other criteria to determine educators’ effectiveness.

She was also one of several teachers union leaders named as members of new Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s transition team for the Public Education Department.

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