CHEYENNE – Laramie County School District 1 and playground equipment companies are being sued for negligence that allegedly caused an 11-year-old Cheyenne girl to suffer a fractured spinal vertebrae.
Scott Hunter and Heather Hunter are suing California-based Universal Precast Concrete and UPC Parks, Iowa-based Miracle Recreation Equipment Company, Colorado-based Churchich Recreation Equipment and LCSD1. The civil lawsuit was filed Jan. 23 in Laramie County District Court.
Cheyenne attorneys Frederick Harrison and Diana Rhodes are representing the Hunters. Rhodes declined to comment on the case, and Harrison did not return phone calls to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. LCSD1 Superintendent Boyd Brown said he cannot comment on the case because it is pending litigation.
The Hunters are suing the playground manufacture companies for product liability and LCSD1 for negligence. The lawsuit is asking for a jury trial, with the amount in damages to be proven at trial. However, according to court documents the amount in controversy was listed as $3 million for the alleged incident and injury.
According to the lawsuit:
On Jan. 24, 2018, the 11-year-old girl, identified as L.H. Hunter, was playing on the Meadowlark Elementary playground on the Rocks and Ropes equipment. On this equipment, a child can shuffle across the bottom rope while holding a top rope to get from rock to rock.
During a time when there was allegedly a lack of adult supervision, a boy ran up and leaped onto the ropes while L.H. was shuffling between them. This caused the ropes to “violently swing” as L.H. “hung desperately” to the ropes, according to the lawsuit.
This caused L.H.’s back to become hyperextended and her spinal vertebrae to crush together, causing an acute crushed T5 vertebrae, hematoma and potential paralysis.
The lawsuit said using this playground equipment requires a lot of adult supervision, and it isn’t suitable for more than one child to play on at a time. The lawsuit said there are no current LCSD1 recess policies and procedures that require a certain amount of playground supervisors.
There weren’t any playground supervisors present to prevent the incident, and no adults saw the incident occur. If there were, they didn’t step forward to help L.H. or prepare a report on the incident, the lawsuit said.
Later that day, L.H. went to the school nurse because her back hurt and was given an ibuprofen. But the nurse didn’t make a record of her visit, or contact L.H.’s parents to let them know about their child’s pain and medication administration.
Because the parents weren’t aware of their daughter’s injury, it wasn’t until three weeks later that they took L.H. to a doctor because she was complaining of a sore back. L.H. had an X-ray done on her back, and it showed the crushed vertebrae and that she was at risk of paralysis.
Due to the injury, L.H. has experienced trauma, ongoing pain, inability to participate in sports and physical education she once enjoyed, no medical treatment for three weeks from the beginning of her injury and ongoing medical treatment.