By City News Service
The Glendale Unified School District faces trial in a lawsuit brought on behalf of a girl who says she fainted after being required to perform in hot conditions at a campus Christmas holiday recital in 2017.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Cherol Nellon heard arguments on May 17 on the district’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s case, took the issues under submission and denied the motion on June 26.
The girl, now 15-years-old and an Altadena resident, was a 10-year-old student at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in Glendale when she became unconscious and fell down the stage steps on Dec. 8, 2017, suffering a head injury, several chipped teeth and a laceration that required 16 stitches to close.
The school is a K-6 campus, and the suit alleges negligent supervision of students.
In her ruling, Nellon said both sides presented mostly hearsay deposition evidence to support their arguments.
“Excluding the hearsay evidence, [the district] cannot show how many adults were supervising, the indoor temperature or defendant’s awareness of plaintiff’s health issues,” the judge wrote. “Without this information, the court is unable to ascertain whether [the] defendant acted reasonably.”
An attorney for the district wrote in her court papers that the fainting occurred in the winter and that there was no history of students passing out or otherwise being injured in the auditorium during the rehearsals.
“Unfortunately, student accidents can and do happen, but this does not mean that the teaching staff was at fault or that they can be mind readers or fortune tellers in an effort to anticipate the unknown or the unexpected,” the GUSD attorney wrote in her court papers.
According to the suit, students were required to stand close together while they prepared to rehearse in the school auditorium.
“Causing children to stand upright for nearly one hour in hot and congested conditions was an unsafe practice and a deviation from the standard of care by instructors at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys argued in their court papers.
No instruction was provided to the children on alternative ways to deal with the heat and exhaustion, the suit alleges.
The trial of the suit is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 29.
First published in the July 8 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.