A family is suing the Teton County School District after their son fell from playground equipment and sustained a traumatic brain injury, leading to a flurry of legal filings, with the district and several contractors denying any responsibility while seeking to shift liability elsewhere.
The incident happened in early fall 2014 at Wilson Elementary School, where the boy — identified only by his initials in court documents — was an 8-year-old second-grader. Parents Tasmin and William Fix filed the lawsuit in August 2017 and an amended complaint last month, leading to denials from the school district. But along with its denials, the district also filed a complaint alleging any liability for the student’s injuries fell to Summit Recreation, which was hired by the district to redesign the playground.
Summit, in turn, filed another complaint, alleging that any liability should actually fall to Kompan, Inc. — which designed the dome from which the student fell — and Redwoods Precision Landscaping, which Summit hired to place the “wood fiber safety surfacing” beneath the dome. The surface was provided by Kompan, according to court documents.
A message left for Teton County School District attorneys was not returned Friday. An attorney for the family did not respond to a comment Friday, while another attorney could not be reached by the Star-Tribune.
Near the beginning of the academic year in 2014, the student was playing on a piece of playground equipment at Wilson Elementary that the lawsuit claims was called the “Dome of Doom”; in its response, the district denied the dome was given that nickname.
The boy fell from the dome and “suffered a traumatic injury to his brain,” the lawsuit alleges, adding that the district knew the boy fell, did not tell his parents and “explicitly denied” that he had “suffered an injury to his head.” Teton County denied those allegations in court documents.
Over the ensuing days, the student’s conditions worsened, and he was admitted to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, where scans showed “an intracerebral hemorrhage,” according to the lawsuit. The student was then life-flighted to a Salt Lake City hospital, where doctors determined he’d suffered a brain injury.
“Due to (the districts’) negligence, (the student) has suffered acute and permanent brain damage,” the suit alleges. The district denies it was negligent.
The lawsuit goes on to allege that the district, among other things, “failed to operate or maintain safe playground equipment and failed to maintain adequate surfacing or ground cover” and “failed to properly examine, evaluate and treat, or in the “alternative, to properly refer and secure qualified and competent medical professionals to examine, diagnose, evaluate and treat” the student.
The district, meanwhile, alleges that the district’s claims are outside the statue of limitations, that the district acted in good faith at all times and that the district is immune from liability.
In that same document, the district filed a third-party complaint against Summit, essentially alleging that if the family is successful in its allegations that the equipment was unsafe, then the district believes Summit should be liable. Summit denied that suggestion but filed a similar claim, that any liability shifted toward it should instead go to Kompan and Redwoods.