Edna Karr Charter High School sued for allegedly failing to protect handicapped child during fight

By Max Schramel | Apr 27, 2015

NEW ORLEANS – A mother claims Edna Karr Charter High School failed to protect her handicapped child from physical contact when a fight broke out.

Alva Hubbard, individually and on behalf of her minor child, T.M. filed suit against Orleans Parish School Board, Algiers Charter School Association Inc., Inspirenola Charter Schools, Edna Karr Charter High School, John Hiser and Bethany Winfield R.N. in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court on Feb. 26.

The petitioner, T.M., is a 15-year-old student who attended Edna Karr Charter High School between 2013-2014. Hubbard claims she informed Edna Karr that her child suffered from multiple conditions inhibiting her movement, including spondylolisthesis and scoliosis and that throughout her adolescence T.M. underwent multiple surgeries to combat her disorders such as the “implementation of hardware.”

The petitioner’s physician advised the plaintiff’s mother to protect her daughter from physical contact as much as possible, as T.M.’s conditions left her extremely vulnerable to fall. As a result, the plaintiff and her mother held a meeting with school officials at Edna Karr. In the meeting, the school officials allowed T.M. to leave classes early, skip physical education class and eat lunch in the office of defendant Bethany Winfield, the school nurse, in order to avoid physical contact with other students.

On March 7, 2014, the petitioner was on her usual lunch break in the school nurse’s office. The next moment, the defendant, Bethany Winfield, was allegedly called to break up a fight, which was a common occurrence at Edna Karr, as “the high school had a known history of violent fights and altercations between students," the suit says.

Upon leaving her office, the defendant allegedly allowed T.M. to exit, “unsupervised” and “unprotected,” the suit claims. As a result, the plaintiff was allegedly trampled by a mob of students racing towards the fight. The petitioner’s mother contends her daughter sustained severe injuries to her shoulder, cervical and lumbar spine as a consequence of the incident.

The defendants are accused of failing to shield T.M. from physical contact, help T.M. to a safe location, keep T.M. in a safe environment, adhere to the special regulations required by Edna Karr to keep T.M. safe from physical contact, properly supervise T.M. and provide well-trained staff to assist T.M.

Alva Hubbard, individually and on behalf of her minor child, is seeking an unspecified amount in damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, disabilities and disfigurement.

The petitioner is represented by Thomas A. Gennusa, II, Joseph S. Piacun and Reid S. Uzee of Gennusa, Piacun & Ruli.

The case has been assigned to Div. N Judge Ethel S. Julien.

Case no. 2015-01790.

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