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Attorney Thayer Represents Parent of Student Injured in Tunnel During School Hours

The Gatti Law Firm

On Wednesday, November 27th, a parent filed a personal injury lawsuit against her child’s school and the city of Salem for negligently causing his injury. Our attorney, Jeffrey P. Thayer, has taken on her case. They are suing for $235,000.

The Incident

Approximately four years ago, the plaintiff was in his sixth-grade P.E. class when the instructor told him and his classmates to go to the high school football field. While the plaintiff went with the group, his teacher and assistant instructor stayed behind to continue dividing students into groups. The plaintiff’s group, therefore, was unsupervised.

To get to the high school, the students needed to go through an underground tunnel. Students frequently used this area to conveniently travel back and forth between the two schools, but it was an incredibly old tunnel, originally built underneath railroad tracks in 1939. The city had made promises to maintain it, but when the plaintiff and his group traveled it on the day of the incident, it was laden with safety hazards. It had no adequate lighting, and one of the three steel posts at the entrance of the tunnel was broken off, leaving only the remnants of the metal footing. The asphalt on the ramp leading to the tunnel was uneven and cracked.

As no adults were there to warn them to be careful, the plaintiff and other students were running through the tunnel. The plaintiff’s foot caught on the broken post, and he fell, causing two bones in his wrist to break. The two subsequent surgeries have not completely healed him, as one of his hands still loses feeling and is hypersensitive to cold temperatures.

Reporters from Salem Statesman Journal recently visited the tunnel and said there is currently a locked gate at the entrance, but the schools have not released information about changes they’ve made or whether students still use this to travel between the middle and high schools.

Who Is at Fault?

According to the lawsuit, filed by Attorney Thayer on behalf of the plaintiff’s family, both the city of Salem and officials from Salem-Keizer Public Schools are liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Of the $235,000 they are requesting, $200,000 is for non-economic damages, and $35,000 is to cover past medical treatment.

Attorney Thayer explains that the city and schools (Parrish Middle School and North Salem High School) are at fault due to negligence. The city failed to maintain the tunnel between the two schools, regularly inspect the area, and warn tunnel-users of the hazards. The school officials did not supervise the students, and this supervision could have prevented the students from running. They also did nothing to warn the students of the tunnel’s hazards.

According to Mr. Thayer, the combined negligence of the city and schools directly and proximately caused the plaintiff to sustain:

  • Permanent injuries
  • Physical pain and emotional suffering
  • Heightened risk of future injuries/degenerative diseases
  • Impaired enjoyment of life

Although the family will need to wait a significant length of time before the case reaches a settlement or verdict, our firm has full faith that the plaintiff will receive the compensation he deserves for his pain and suffering.

At The Gatti Law Firm, our attorneys are committed to the rights and wellbeing of Oregon families. Our cities and schools must fulfill certain obligations to ensure the safety of students and residents, and when they fail to do so, they must be held accountable. We have more than 45 years of experience successfully pursuing justice on behalf of our clients, and we look forward to doing the same for you. If you are looking for skilled and passionate legal counsel and representation, join us for a free consultation or call (503) 543-1114 today.
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