FORT MYERS, Fla. — UPDATED (11:30 a.m. 01/22/2021) - The family of a 15-year-old boy is suing his school because they say he broke his neck in gym class.
Drew Williams is claiming the gym teacher at Southwest Florida Christian Academy was negligent for letting it happen on his watch.
It started with two boys wrestling during gym class, but it ended with Drew Williams’ son, only named "C.W." in the lawsuit, getting slammed to the ground onto his neck.
"This was avoidable. This was completely unnecessary," said Ty Roland, the family's attorney.
Roland believes it was unnecessary because there is video of the incident, and at the end of it, you can see the teacher standing far off in the distance. Roland said, if he had been closer, things could have been different.
"Kids in that age-range, let alone competitive kids, they’re certainly not fully aware of the types of activity that can hurt them, and that’s why we have supervisors. That’s why we have adult caregivers that are supposed to be vigilant and on the watch, and that didn’t happen," said Roland.
But Roland said there was also negligence after the injury, because the people around C.W. picked him up, not realizing he had a neck injury.
"He is hoisted up off of the ground, yanked up off of the ground by his arm. We know he’s led to a bathroom where he’s asked to just splash some water on his face and you’ll be okay," said Roland.
9-1-1 was finally called, and C.W. was taken to the hospital. He needed surgery to stabilize his spine.
Now, his family is seeking at least $30,000 in damages. That's the threshold to allow the case to be heard in Circuit Court, but Roland says they will likely be seeking much more.
Roland said, the Williams’ family is pushing this lawsuit, not just for the monetary damages, but because they want to see the school made safer. After doing some research, we found out they’re not the first family that had an issue with safety on the athletic fields of Southwest Florida Christian Academy.
Back in 2012, we covered the death of Jesse Watlington, who was struck by lightning at the school, and died four days later. His family argued the school didn’t have lightning detection devices. They settled outside of court for an undisclosed amount.
Roland said, he hopes in C.W.'s case, the school makes a change.
"I certainly would hope that, at some point, part of what happens here is that the kids that go to that school will be safer," said Roland.
The McGregor Baptist Church is also included in the lawsuit because it owns Southwest Florida Christian Academy. We reached out to the lead pastor there, the head of the school, the school’s principal, and the school’s director of marketing, but we did not hear back.
ORIGINAL - McGregor Baptist Church and the Southwest Florida Christian Academy (SFCA) are facing a negligence lawsuit after a student suffered a broken neck while under the school's supervision.
The law firm Aloia, Roland, Lubell & Morgan is representing Drew Williams in the civil lawsuit, claiming his son, a freshman at the time, was playing with a friend during gym class on May 5th, 2019. The two boys were wrestling, and his son was picked up by the other boy and dropped on his head causing a severe spinal injury.
Williams is arguing that the teacher of the gym class was negligent in allowing the two boys to wrestle without supervision.
After the injury, Williams says his son was also picked up by his arm and taken to a bathroom to wash his face, all while having a broken neck. The lawsuit argues the boy should have been stabilized at the scene, and 9-1-1 should have been called immediately.
Drew Williams is seeking damages of at least $30,000 from the school for allowing this injury to occur under its supervision. $30,000 is the threshold to allow the case to be heard in Circuit Court, but Roland says they will eventually be seeking far more than that in damages.
Aloia, Roland, Lubell & Morgan recently reached a settlement agreement against the Lee County School District for a negligence case from 2017, in which Zachary Martin-Polsenberg died from a heat stroke at football practice.