According to her attorney, Timothy F. X. Jones, Estelle Gilson fell about 12 rows, "[tumbling] feet over head" when Donald Taitt, who was returning to his seat about 10 minutes into Act II of Strauss's Arabella, lost his balance and fell into her. Gilson had stepped into the aisle to give Taitt, who has Parkinson's disease, room to enter.
Gilson, according to New York Lawyer, broke her right wrist, the bridge of her nose, and the bone under her right eye, as well as tearing her rotator cuff. She and her husband brought suit against the opera, and against Lincoln Center and Taitt, claiming that the opera house violated its "Performance Staff Rules and Guidelines" and was negligent in not accompanying Taitt to his seat with an usher or flashlight.
Justice David B. Saxe wrote for the majority: "When a disabled opera patron, experiencing physical difficulty in maneuvering into his seat in a darkened opera house, falls into another patron, knocking her down and causing injuries, regardless of how unfortunate the accident and its consequences may be, the injured audience member does not have a viable negligence claim against the opera house, in the absence of some breach of duty not present here."
Jones said he would appeal the appellate decision in favor of the Met, but the Gilsons have dropped charges against Taitt.