A woman has filed suit in Napa County Superior Court alleging that a landing hot-air balloon injured her as she rode her bike in the Carneros district.
In the complaint, attorney James V. Jones of Napa said his client, Pamela Contos, was riding her bicycle on Henry Road at about 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 24, 2009, when the pilot working for Napa Valley Balloons Inc. allowed a rope from a descending balloon to hang down directly in her path.
The lawsuit alleges that the rope wrapped around her neck and lifted her off the bike before she was thrown to the ground, Jones said.
Contos suffered multiple injuries to her neck, back, head, legs, right arm and left shoulder, Jones said in the complaint filed July 12. She also sustained a severe gash across her neck, dental injuries, abrasions and bone fractures, according to the court filing.
Her bicycle and equipment were damaged or destroyed at a cost of $2,000, the suit alleges.
The October 2009 incident occurred east of Dealy Lane, according to the California Highway Patrol.
According to the Register’s news account, the hot-air balloon crew immediately helped Condos until emergency personnel arrived at the scene. She was transported to Queen of the Valley Medical Center, the CHP said.
Contos, a program manager at Synergy, a medical fitness center at Queen of the Valley Medical Center, was not able to work for five months, according to the court filing.
While Contos is doing better, she has had to undergo multiple medical procedures, Jones said recently.
According to the complaint, Contos will require medical care and continue to incur medical expenses “in an amount unknown to plaintiff at this time.”
The complaint alleges negligence by Napa Valley Balloons Inc., and the pilot, Gabriel Gundlin.
Besides general monetary damages, Contos seeks to be reimbursed for all medical and incidental expenses, loss of earnings and earning capacity, $2,000 in personal property damages, as well as legal expenses, according to the complaint.
A representative for Napa Valley Balloons could not be reached for comment.
According to its website, the company was founded in 1980 and has been featured on national TV, including NBC’s “Today Show.” Its pilots, the website says, are among the most experienced in the Napa Valley. In 2001, former “first daughter” Chelsea Clinton flew with Napa Valley Balloons.
A case management meeting is scheduled for Dec. 19 in Napa County Superior Court.