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Lawsuit: West Hartford student suffered traumatic brain injury from PE class

October 15, 2019

By Emily Brindley | Hartford Courant, WEST HARTFORD, CT, (October 15, 2019) -- A young girl and her family are suing the town of West Hartford and the board of education after the girl reportedly fell during her third-grade PE class and suffered permanent injuries, including a traumatic brain injury.

The lawsuit, which was initially filed in Oct. 2017, is scheduled to go to trial in Feb. 2020 at Hartford Superior Court. Court documents say the girl’s lawyer believes the case is worth well over $50,000.

According to the lawsuit, the girl was an 8-year-old third grader at Wolcott Elementary School in Jan. 2017. The girl participated in a morning PE class one day that month, but the gym floor was in an “unsafe condition,” the suit says.

During the class, the girl fell and hit her head on the gym floor, according to the suit.“The impact caused her to lose consciousness and sustain serious, debilitating and permanent injuries, including a traumatic brain injury,” the suit says.

As a result of her injuries, the suit says, the girl suffers from “lasting disabilities and impairments," vision and neurological impairments, significant medical costs and a loss of earning potential.

The girl’s parents are now suing because the town, the board of education and the two parties’ employees — including the girl’s PE teacher — had a responsibility to make sure that the school grounds were safe for students, the suit says.

In response to the suit, defending attorney Ondi Smith, of Hartford-based law firm Howd & Ludorf, wrote in court documents that the girl’s “own negligence and carelessness” played a significant role in her injuries.

Smith wrote that the girl didn’t follow instructions during the PE class, didn’t pay attention and “failed to act as a reasonably prudent person would.”

According to the school nurse’s report from the girl’s fall — which is included in the court documents — the PE teacher told the nurse that the gym floor had been slippery and the girl fell. The girl then told the nurse that someone else fell in front of her and she tripped over them, the nurse’s report says.

In the PE teacher’s statement, however, she said that she walked around the school’s gymnasium before class and determined the gym floor was not slippery or wet.

The girl and her parents are represented by attorney Paul Slager, of Stamford-based law firm Silver Golub & Teitell. Slager declined to comment on the case because the litigation is pending.

Garmon Newsom II, the assistant corporation counsel for the town of West Hartford, confirmed that the case is going to trial in 2020 but did not comment further.






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