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Posted on Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 11 a.m.

Fundraiser held for Jenny's market hayride accident victim as family celebrates her release from hospital

By Lisa Carolin

Mary Armbruster and her family celebrated a milestone in her recovery Thursday, but there's still a long road ahead for the young woman who was severely injured in a hayride accident this fall at Jenny's Dexter Market.

Armbruster was released from the hospital Thursday, and has made tremendous progress since the accident, but her life will never be the same, and she and her family face daunting medical expenses.

Saturday, friends and community members got a chance to help the family meet those expenses at a fundraiser held from 2 to 4 p.m. at Colonial Lanes on South Industrial Highway in Ann Arbor.

Armbruster, 23, of Ann Arbor, was driving a horse-drawn hay wagon Sept. 24 at the market just west of Dexter, when one of the horses tripped and she was pulled off. The wagon then ran over her, breaking her spine between two vertebrae.

Armbruster's mother, Julie Armbruster said her daughter now uses a wheelchair to get around and is undergoing significant physical and occupational therapy. Julie Armbruster said significant modifications have been made to the family's home to make it wheelchair accessible.


Mary Armbruster was seriously injured during a hayride at Jenny's Dexter market this fall.

Lisa Allmendinger |

Mary Armbruster has undergone several surgeries and hopes to begin rehabilitation therapy at the University of Michigan Medical Center soon, according to information posted on the nonprofit website, where donations can be made for her care.

"Her survival and recovery are the result of her incredible tenacity, hard work, resolve, the dedicated doctors and nurses, the prayers and support of family and friend," Julie Armbruster said in a letter posted on the site.

Mary Armbruster released her own statement Nov. 1, in which she said faulty equipment and a dangerously steep downhill course were responsible for the accident.

Webster Township has since sought to shut down the business, citing Jenny's market for zoning violations.

Burton Hoey, operator of Jenny's Market, has said there were no problems with the equipment and the same course has been used for years without problems. He said that he turned claims over to his insurers and that his worker's compensation insurance and liability insurance should cover Armbruster's medical bills.

Estimates put the cost of Armbruster's care for the first year at close to $300,000, said Michelle Dettore, a registered nurse at the U-M. Julie Armbruster said that although her daughter has insurance coverage, many expenses are not covered, such as retrofitting the family home, rehabilitation equipment, physical and occupational therapy sessions, home health care and more.

Preregistration for Saturday's fundraiser began at 1:30 p.m., and though the bowling portion ended at 4, the fundraising continued until 6 p.m. The cost to participate in the bowling was $20 per person and included three games of bowling, shoe rental, two slices of pizza and pop, as well as a raffle.



Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 1:35 a.m.

A very good friend of mine was on that hayride along with her husband and their three very small children. She was sitting at the very front of the wagon and saw the seat break and Mary fall. The horses then ran out of control and almost crashed into the fence. She said it was the most frightening experience of her and her children's life. She was one of the very first people to reach Mary, she then called Mrs. Armbruster, and stayed with Mary until the ambulance arrived. She told me she was shocked that no one from Jenny's Market came to check on Mary at any point. Needless to say, after her honest first hand account of that day, I have stopped shopping at Jenny's Market


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 9:24 p.m.

I think it is wonderful that the community is coming together to help this family meet the daunting financial expenses they face following Mary's accident. It also sounds like they are receiving much-needed support from, which is fantastic. However, I would just like to point out that this is a serious problem with the health insurance system for people with disabilities. I was born with a neuropathy that has slowly caused me to use a power wheelchair full time. I am the same age as Mary: 23 years old. My medical insurance does not cover retrofitting my home, most rehabilitation equipment, unlimited physical and occupational therapy sessions, etc., either. And there are tens of thousands of people in this country in similar situations (after all, depending on how we are counted, people with disabilities make up the largest minority in the United States and in the world). But not all of us are going to be able to have a successful, well-attended fundraiser that gets media attention. Many of us are not even eligible for services from charitable organizations such as because our disabilities are not the result of a catastrophic injury. I wish Mary all the best, and I hope she is able to comfortably meet her financial expenses. In addition to supporting her and her family, let's also remember that Mary's situation is another example of how our current health insurance system fails to adequately meet the needs of people with disabilities, regardless of how their disabilities originated.


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 3:46 p.m.

When is the fundraiser to pay for a lawyer so Ms. Armbruster can sue the pants off Jenny's Farm Market for their willful neglience that caused the accident?

Brock Ketcher

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 9:28 p.m.

We would like to offer our fundraising website for free to Mary or her immediate family. If you feel it would be helpful, please visit <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. Brock, CEO <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 9:16 p.m.

Here is a link to the Michigan Worker's Comp rules: note: some agricultural employees are exempted. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Say Mary was making $9.00 an hour driving the wagon. Assume 40 hours a week, which is probably high, she would maybe gross $360.00 a week in lost wages. But if it was seasonal work, will they adjust it for that? Not much to make a life with.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 9:37 p.m.

&quot;How are wage-loss benefits calculated? In the ordinary case a worker receives 80 percent of the after-tax value of his or her wage loss. It does not matter whether the worker is "totally" or "partially" disabled. Benefits are based on the wage loss and set at 80 percent of the after- tax value of the loss. (Total and permanent disability is a special category and discussed in Chapter 8.) Thus, if Jane Smith is unable to work, a determination would be made of her "average weekly wage" before her injury and she would be paid benefits equal to 80 percent of the after-tax value of that amount. If she returned to work and because of her injury received wages less than her average weekly wage, she would receive benefits equal to 80 percent of the after-tax value of the difference. Prior to 1982 the basic rate of benefits was two-thirds of the worker's gross average weekly wages rather than 80 percent of the after-tax value of his or her wages. When this law was changed, it was also provided that if the two-thirds formula subject to the 1981 maximum limitation would result in a higher rate, the worker is entitled to receive that rate. The tables published by the agency for calculating the compensation rate indicate when this situation applies.&quot;


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 9:36 p.m.

&quot;Is there any special help for a young worker with high earnings potential who is injured at a low-paying job? Section 356(1) of the Act provides special help for individuals who are earning a very low wage at the time of their injury and can demonstrate that at the time of their injury they had a potential for higher earnings. It applies to individuals whose rate of compensation is less than 50 percent of the state average weekly wage as of the time of their injury. After two years of continuous disability, such a person may petition for a hearing and demonstrate that "by virtue of the employee's age, education, training, experience, or other documented evidence which would fairly reflect the employee's earning capacity, the employee's earnings would have been expected to increase." If the employee can demonstrate this, then the magistrate may order an increase in compensation up to 50 percent of the state average weekly wage for the year of injury. This one-time adjustment and the higher rate of benefits is paid only from the time a claim is made under this section. The cost of the increased payments comes from the Second Injury Fund and not the employer.&quot;


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 2:33 p.m.

To everyone who is questioning why the insurance company(s) that Mr Hoey stated are not paying; you are assuming that Mr Hoey does in fact have insurance in place...


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 4:15 a.m.

I'm more than happy to contribute to a fund that helps pay Mary's expenses. But I am not understanding why the bills won't be covered by a combination of workmen's compensation and by the employer's liability insurance. Are the medical expenses thought to exceed what workmen's compensation and the employer's liability insurance will cover?

Turd Ferguson

Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 11:13 p.m.

So will there be a fundraiser every month for the rest of her life?

Polish Baby

Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 9:50 p.m.

Under workers' compensation, Mary is entitled to receive lifetime medical care relating to her injury, including therapy, and also wage loss (capped per state guidelines). She was injured at work and is entitled to these benefits, regardless of who was at fault or negligent. Unfortunately, she won't be entitled to sue the market - work comp is considered a sole remedy.

Dave Bass

Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

I fail to see poor editing of this article as the commentary relates? I must be seeing a revised version from this morning. In any case, I hope the fund raiser is a success. God speed Mary's recovery.


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 5:40 p.m.

Even though the equipment was/not, OK, the market still has liable written all over it. The market should be the first ones at the found raising function, and make the first large donation. The market should have hired a well experienced stage coach operator to manage the ride in the first place. People without proper knowledge of how to drive a carriage up and down hills are likely to have an accident. My grand father owned a horse drawn buggy and he said that you can't train someone in a week how to operate one, because horses, like people, are fallible, and if you fail to let go of the rains at the right time the horse can throw you off. They had no business hiring a inexperienced driver.

Fat Bill

Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 5:49 p.m.

@Joe_Citizen, if it is found the the market was grossly negiligent, they will likely be making more than a donation. Since Mr. Hoey made mention of his insurers, Ms. Armbruster stands a better chance of receiving support for her new, likely lifelong condition.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

This is a very important local story, and I think some editing should be done. T hat said, this to Mary: You show a lot of courage in dealing with this. Keep working on the rehab. It's very difficult stuff, but it will pay off. Have a merry Christmas, and I hope the event today will help a lot.


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 4:42 p.m.

I surmise that the release from the hospital Thursday is the Thursday milestone. My prayers for everyone involved, Mary, and all the hospital staff, as well as the good folks at Jenny's.


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 10:03 p.m.

Oh, got it, thanks.


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

So, what was the milestone? I'm a little lost.... and they cited the market for zoning violations and what?


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 12:58 a.m.

She was released form the hospital.


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

Just plug the market's name into the search box.