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Saturday, 15 March 2014 12:28

Turlock School District Pays $6 Million to Settle Student Injury Lawsuit

Written by 
| | Kailey Fisicaro/TurlockCityNews.com|
The Turlock Unified School District has settled a lawsuit for $6 million, after a 6-year old girl suffered severe head trauma in a playground fall and the injury was not properly addressed by Dennis Earl Elementary School staff.

TurlockCityNews.com uncovered the Dec. 11, 2013 settlement through a review of Stanislaus County Superior Court records. A full case summary was subsequently obtained from VerdictSearch.com.

The girl’s grandparents, Tony and Kimberly Pascoal, contend that on the day of the incident, Oct. 20, 2010, a group of third grade boys playing an unsupervised game of tag slammed into their granddaughter.
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The girl was knocked to the ground, and the back of her head slammed against the concrete.

“(The girl) was medically assessed by an office secretary because there was no nurse or medical tech on campus when the accident occurred,” the case summary reads. “(The girl) was then sent to class, where she complained of a horrible headache that had developed.

“She was then seen by the school's health technician, who had (the girl) lay down with ice for two hours. (The girl) then became unconscious and unresponsive, and had a seizure.

“Finally, 9-1-1 was called, and (the girl) was airlifted to UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, where she was treated for head and brain injuries.”
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At UCSF it was determined the girl had a skull fracture and brain injury resulting in a hematoma and hemorrhaging. After five days in the hospital, a blood transfusion and anti-seizure medication, the girl was discharged. She now suffers from seizures and cognitive defects that affect her short-term memory and attention span.

According to the girl’s attorney, the “school district's personnel failed to supervise and control the conduct of the students on campus before class.” No adults on campus stopped the running, or saw the collision or injury occur. There were only four adults on duty to supervise more than 700 children, constituting “negligent supervision” and a “dangerous condition of public property.”

After mediation the case was settled in the form of a $6 million annuity. The girl will receive $15,000 per month for 40 years, along with various lump sum payments at ages 25, 30, 34 and 40. The guaranteed benefits will equal $7,427,400 and lifetime benefits will total $14,089,620.
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Are Turlock Schools Safe?

News of the settlement comes just days after a father announced he will seek legal action against the district, following the perceived mishandling of his son’s injury at Crowell Elementary School.

The six-year-old boy was either stabbed or “poked” in the neck with a pencil by a classmate, either intentionally or accidentally. The school did not call an ambulance, though Emanuel Medical Center doctors said the injury may have been serious and sent the child via ambulance to the Children’s Hospital of Central California. Also, the father says he reported the alleged stabber as a bully to Crowell staff three times, and his complaints went unaddressed.

TUSD Board of Trustees President Bob Weaver said he believes Turlock public schools are safe.

“Yes I do (believe schools are safe),” Weaver said. “We try our best to prevent injuries, but do they happen? Yes.”
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He went on to explain he could not offer any further comment due to confidentiality regarding each incident, but he did say the school district carries insurance that pays for the lawsuit.

“That’s what we have insurance for,” he said.

In an emailed statement to TurlockCityNews.com, TUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Mike Trainor, directed by Superintendent Sonny Da Marto, stated,

“Despite an unfortunate accident on the playground in 2010 where one of our students was injured, we believe that Turlock schools are safe and well supervised,” Trainor said. “Student safety remains a high priority in our district and we are continuously examining our safety procedures, staffing, and training programs to make refinements and improvements as needed.”
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District staff did not respond to questions asking if TUSD needs to reevaluate specifically how school sites are staffed with medical personnel and playground or campus supervisors.

Trainor did confirm that no employees were terminated following the Dennis Earl Elementary School incident, but declined to comment on any disciplinary actions taken.

“We must respect the legal right to privacy of personnel records so we cannot discuss details of disciplinary actions,” Trainor said. “We can say that no personnel actions were taken as a result of this incident.” 
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  • Guest - oodi

    WOW!!! Sounds like the school staff and the so-called "health technician" are in dire need of more training in basic first aid. A headache is one of the first indicators of a possible closed head injury!!! This type of ignorance is incomprehensible and completely unacceptable!!!

  • Guest - Ingrid Balisha

    Six million dollars??? Unless this child is in a vegetative state there is no possible explanation but greed by the grandparents and their ambulance chasing lawyer. We, as a society, should shun them and their despicable behavior. As for the school district, what a weak-kneed reaction, giving into extortion like this they are simply inviting more of the same, e.g., the pencil/neck incident. Sincerely, Ingrid Balisha

  • Guest - oodi

    Ingrid, do you have any first hand knowledge of what this child's prognosis and medical expenses will be? I only hope that the settlement is enough to cover it!!

  • Guest - seizure mom

    In regards to Ingrid Balisha's comment...your comment sounds typical to someone who has never dealt with someone who has seizures and/or special needs and the financial & physical strain it can cause!! $6 million dollars is the least that they could do!! This poor child is now left with a possible life long disability. If you've never dealt with a child that has seizures or even an adult who has them and have seen the effects that is has on your mind and your body, consider yourself LUCKY!!! As a mom with a special needs child with Epilepsy and other physical disabilities due to the effects of the seizures on his brain, I completely sympathize with the grandparents and this poor little girl. All of this might have been avoided if the school had been on top of the accident when it happened. Anytime a child (or any one for that matter) falls and hits their head, medical attention should be sought immediately just for reasons like this. If nothing else, the grandparents/parents should have been called immediately...not just her head iced for 2 hours. The school district is lucky that this was all that happened to the little girl!!! I have a cousin who is paralyzed from the neck down from simply tripping over a cement stopping block and hitting the back of her head on the side walk!! My prayers go out to this little girl and her family...especially for the fact that her little life is forever impacted by this. <3

  • Guest - Citizen X

    Ingrid Balisha you are not a resonable person and we as a society should shun you!

  • Guest - Are Turlock Schools Safe?

    Obviously not. I wouldn't send any of my kids to a public school in this town. Where do they hire the staff from, the tweeker-filled local homeless facilities? No wonder a boy got stabbed recently in another school and was basically forced to wait out his injuries like this girl was. Based on the comments from the TUSD reps, they clearly take a cold and uncaring attitude toward child safety. "That's what we have insurance for"??? A child received a serious brain injury and will have life-long disabilities because of it. Show some GD empathy, would you Weaver?

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