Family Suing Utah School for Negligence Relating to Child's Death
OGDEN -- The family of a 7-year-old boy who died from complications of a heart condition are gathering information as part of their lawsuit against the Ogden School District.
The family of Jose Eduardo Flores Bedolla are suing the district and four district employees for negligence that they say led to the boy's death on Oct. 29, 2010. In a complaint filed in 2nd District Court earlier this year, the family alleges that Eduardo had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital heart condition, and that when the boy entered Horace Mann Elementary School, the boy's condition, potential symptoms and care needs were explained.
The complaint states that the district was given this information when the boy entered both kindergarten and first grade, and it accuses the district of failing to create a health care plan or emergency care plan for Eduardo. But Philip Lott, an attorney for the school district, said there is some dispute as to how much the school actually knew about the boy's condition.
"The school district has a procedure where they send out a health questionnaire form to parents to fill out and, unfortunately, the family never did return the health questionnaire form," he said. "There is a question about how much the school district actually did know."
According to the complaint, on Oct. 29 the boy began to have difficulty breathing. His teacher sent him to the school's office because he appeared ill. A school secretary tried to contact the boy's family, eventually getting in touch with a relative whom she asked to call Eduardo's mother.
"Eduardo sat close outside the school office for well over an hour, possible over two hours, before his school officials contacted his mother and she arrived," the complaint states.
It said school employees saw the boy, who was crying and screaming and reaching for adults to hold him, holding up his shirt and touching his stomach, vomiting, sweating, pale and incapable of keeping his eyes open. The complaint also states that he approached the principal once and that one teacher, "a trained respiratory therapist," asked the secretary if she could check the boy's vital signs. The teacher was told not to touch Eduardo, the complaint alleges. A school custodian noticed the sweating and removed the boy's shirt and helped him walk to the restroom. The boy was allegedly blue in color, cold to the touch and not getting enough oxygen.
"His older sister came into the school to get him while his mother waited in the car," the complaint states. "Eduardo told his sister he was having trouble breathing."
The girl immediately carried him from the school and placed him on his mother's lap while she started to drive to McKay-Dee Hospital. She called 911 on the way and they were met en route by an ambulance who took the boy to the hospital, where Eduardo died.
"It's a tragic case," the family's attorney, Pete Summerill, said. The family is alleging that the incident amounted to negligence and a violation of the boy's right to due process, arguing that the district and its employees "breached their duties" by failing to implement a plan and failing to call 911 or provide assistance. They are seeking at least $300,000 in damages.
"The family is committed to pursuing this to the extent that they need to see that the schools district is held accountable," Summerill said, adding that he is gathering information to learn more about the district's policies and procedures.
Lott emphasized said that while there "may have been some mention of a heart condition," the boy started vomiting after lunch and the assumption was that his symptoms were either flu or food-related. He said efforts to contact the boy's family were hampered because the emergency contact phone numbers had been disconnected. Still, he emphasized that the boy ultimately died at the hospital.
"The school really didn't have him for an extended period of time," Lott said. "The school district feels they did what they reasonably would have been expected to do based on the knowledge that they had. Unfortunately, the parents of the boy didn't convey the extent of his illness to the school." E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam
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