Theodore Sussan was working as a member of a crew maintaining park trails. He was on supervised probation and community service for a conviction on drug charges. The county had protective equipment, including safety glasses for crews to use on the job. Sussan and the other crew members worked under the supervision of a county employee.
The county employee instructed Sussan, who was 27 at the time, to grab a rake. They were working on the county park trails. When Sussan asked if he needed anything else, his supervisor told him no, explaining that Sussan would only be raking debris. Another crew member was using a hedge trimmer to cut brush hanging above the trail. Sussan and other crew members followed behind, raking the fallen limbs and debris. Additional equipment, which would have included eye protection or safety glasses, was not brought along.
Several hours into this project, the crew found a large branch that protruded from bushes into a walking path. The supervisor told the crew it had to be removed and stated that a chainsaw would be needed to remove the branch. The supervisor told Sussan to pull it out and when that failed he tried to break it with his bare hands. When Sussan attempted to do that, the bark separated and the branch swung upward and punctured his right eye with a splintered stick.