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Miami-Dade County, FL

This case involved the death of a popular 12-year-old student at Westview Middle School in Miami who died after striking her head on the side of a portable classroom at the school in September of ________. The plaintiff alleged that employees of the defendant, the Miami-Dade County School Board, were negligent in failing to properly monitor the students who pushed or tripped the minor decedent and caused her to fall. The plaintiff also claimed that the defendant’s employees failed to properly respond to the medical emergency and caused a delay in treatment which caused or contributed to the girl’s death. The defendant denied that the minor decedent was pushed into the wall and maintained that she lost consciousness, fell and died from "sudden cardiac death" as a result of a previously undiagnosed congenital heart condition. The defense maintained that there was nothing that school officials could have done to prevent the death.

The plaintiff claimed that middle school personnel were well aware that students pushed, shoved, tripped and engaged in "horseplay" with other students between classes. Security hall monitors, teachers, administrators, and a Miami-Dade School Police Resource Officer were employed to monitor and supervise the students during this period of time. However, on the date of the incident, September 18, ________, the plaintiff claimed that none of the monitoring personnel were in close proximity to the outside area where the minor decedent struck the wall of a portable classroom. Other students at the scene stated that the minor decedent was pushed or was tripped, causing her to hit the wall.

The plaintiff claimed that the minor decedent was rendered unconscious when she struck her head on the wall, she had no pulse and either had difficulty breathing, exhibited agonal breathing or stopped breathing completely. Evidence showed that, during the ________-________ school year, the school’s assistant principal had selected a primary and alternate coordinator for CPR and first aid services, as per the policy of the defendant school board.

On the day of the decedent’s death, the school’s assistant principal and a physical education teacher had gone to the City of Miami Fire Rescue Training Center and obtained CPR training and training on how to operate an automated external defibrillator. Evidence showed that the assistant principal was provided with at least one defibrillator during that training session.

The plaintiff contended that the school’s assistant principal arrived back at the Westview Middle School campus with the defibrillator at or about the same time the young decedent was pushed, shoved, or tripped into the portable classroom wall. The assistant principal observed the decedent on the ground; but apparently not being told that she has stopped breathing, he went back into the school and called a representative of the defendant school board. The plaintiff argued that the assistant principal failed to advise the school principal or others at the scene that he had the defibrillator in his office.

The plaintiff also alleged that none of the other school officials at the scene, including the principal and two other assistant principals, called for the CPR coordinators or attempted to administer CPR, despite the fact that the decedent was unconscious, not breathing and without a pulse. The plaintiff maintained that records showed that the girl was found unconscious and not breathing at approximately 11:19 a.m. by a teacher who was in the portable classroom which she struck; the call to ________ was made at 11:26 a.m. CPR was started at 11:35 a.m. by a school custodian and security/hall monitor. Thus, the plaintiff alleged that there was a delay of some 15 minutes before the decedent received assistance at the scene. The decedent was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. The plaintiff retained two cardiologists who opined that timely CPR and/or use of the defibrillator more likely than not would have saved the decedent’s life.

The defendant maintained that the students were appropriately monitored and that the decedent’s death stemmed from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. The defense argued that, after the decedent was found on the ground, school officials were on the phone with "________ "immediately" and they were not told to perform CPR or to use the automated external defibrillator.

An autopsy report by the county medical examiner ruled the death accidental from "sudden cardiac death." The defense maintained that there was nothing that could have been done by the defendant’s employees to prevent the tragic event.

The case was settled prior to trial for $________.

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