Richard N. Shapiro & Kevin M. Duffan, Attorneys
R. Hughes & P. McConnell, Paralegals
Randall J. Phillips
A recreational football camp for 1st to 10th graders was taking place at a high school football field in North Carolina in July of 2011. The camp was sponsored by the school and open to the local community. High school student-athletes were helping out with the camp, which was supervised by the varsity football coach. As the camp ended about noon, the coaches directed the high school student-athletes to clean up the field, and a couple of the teenagers were asked by the coach to operate a motorized cart to bring two large water coolers from the field to the nearby gym. When the motorized cart was driven directly across the field at about 20 miles an hour, several of the student-athletes jumped in one direction but one 15 year-old jumped to his left. At the same moment, the operator turned hard to his right and the two collided. The 15 year-old student-athlete was run over by the motorized cart and suffered a serious brain injury. He was responsive but incoherent at the scene, before the rescue carried him to the nearest hospital.
That same evening the 15 year-old underwent emergency craniotomy surgery to reduce swelling due to the brain injury and the surgery was a success but the teenager was consciously sedated and he lingered in that condition for days. Ten days later, his condition deteriorated, and his brain herniated causing his death. He was survived by two parents as his North Carolina statutory beneficiaries. Our law firm was retained to investigate the claim, and bring a NC wrongful death suit if warranted.
Key Legal Strategy
Our team of wrongful death attorneys sued the school administration, the coach, and the vehicle operator for negligence causing wrongful death. Our wrongful death claim alleged a lack of proper supervision since no coaches remained on the field, and the estate alleged that the school should have had a standard policy prohibiting students or minors from operating school owned motorized equipment, a policy many high schools have. In fact the school adopted this exact policy within 30 days of the tragedy, but under legal evidence rules, this would not normally be evidence we could mention to a jury since it was designed to “remedy” this from occurring in the future.
(The case was settled about a week before trial with confidential terms)