Mother of freshman injured in gym class amends complaint after dismissal

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Jan 1, 2014

An East Alton Wood River High School (EAWR) student’s mother filed an amended personal injury complaint on Dec. 4 after Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder granted the school’s motion to dismiss.

Defendant EAWR filed its motion to dismiss the original two-count complaint on Oct. 16, claiming it is immune under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act.

It was accused of “reckless disregard for the safety of its students” and alleged negligence in the original lawsuit. However, the school argued that the complaint failed “to allege the proper legal duty applicable” for both willful and wanton conduct and negligence.

Crowder granted the motion on Nov. 22.

Plaintiff Amanda Lane, mother of Hunter O’Brien, filed her amended complaint through attorney Samuel A. Mormino Jr. of Mormino, Belloff & Snider in Alton.

According to her amended complaint, O’Brien was required by faculty supervisors and teachers to play a game called “Town Ball” in gym class on Sept. 18, 2012, which required players to run toward bases in opposite directions while also paying attention to the action in the field.

O’ Brien was running from third to second base when he collided with a teammate running from second to third base, the complaint states. They hit heads, causing the plaintiff to fall backwards and strike his head on the gym floor, resulting in loss of permanent teeth, an eye injury and head injury, the suit states.

In her amended complaint, Lane claims the class was mandatory and was overseen by school faculty members.

“The defendant, through its agents, servants and employees, acted with the knowledge that such conduct in requiring the children to play a game with these conditions posed a high probability of serious physical harm,” the amended complaint states.

She further alleges it was the duty of the school to exercise reasonable care for the safety of its students and to refrain from activities that “shows an utter indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others or their property.” “Through its agents and servants and employees, committed one or more of the following negligent and willful and wanton acts or omissions: required the plaintiff to engage in a game which it knew or should have known was dangerous and failed to adequately instruct the plaintiff as to the method by which the required game on town ball should be played,” the amended complaint states.

Lane seeks a judgment of more than $100,000.

Donald J. Ohl of Knapp, Ohl & Green in Edwardsville represents EAWR.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 13-L-1587

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