Mother Wins Settlement for Son's Wrongful Death at School

Morro Bay, CA High School Physical Education class - teen girls run up and down the Morro Strand State Beach
mikebaird / Beach Photos / CC BY

In Oklahoma, a 16-year old boy collapsed after exercising in extreme heat at school, and then died a day later. The victim’s mother accepted a wrongful death settlement of $97,500 from Putnam City Public Schools.

The incident occurred on the boy’s second day at Putnam. Two weeks before the incident, the family had moved from their home in Washington, D. C. In August of 2010, Putman City High School, where the boy attended, conducted a 3.1-mile running course. The school-supervised run was held at a park across the street from the school. A group of students who were conditioning for spring sports participated in this run. The boy collapsed during this run, and then died a day later due to hyperthermia.

The family’s personal injury attorney alleged that the temperature during the run was above 100 degrees, and that the high school coaches did not supervise his client’s son during the most dangerous part of the run. The mother also stated she did not give permission for her son to take part in the run. Additionally, the school did not ensure that the victim completed a physical examination prior to the run.

The plaintiff’s attorney, in his legal brief, wrote that his client had been waiting at school as she intended to pick up her son. She had no idea that her son was a participant in the run. She had her son paged, and she then drove into the park where she saw two coaches sitting on the grass while playing with their dog. One of the coaches told her to go back to the school. As she was driving back to pick up her son, she saw an ambulance pulling into the park. She followed the ambulance and only then discovered that her son collapsed due to prolonged exposure to heat.

Although there were coaches monitoring to ensure that all students were all accounted for at the end of the run, Putnam Public Schools’ attorney stated that it is not possible for them to have their eyes on each participant at every second. The attorney also added that the plaintiff’s speculation that more supervision would have prevented the incident from occurring has no merit. She added that each year, some people suffer from illnesses due to heat and die. The death of these victims is caused by heat, and not due to the lack of supervision.

The boy’s mother received a settlement of $97,500. The plaintiff, defendant, and their respective attorneys confirmed that the settlement amount was covered by insurance funds. They refused to make any further comments after the settlement had been reached.

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