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School District Pays $10.5M to Settle Student Injury in Chicken Suit Beating

The 17-year-old didn’t want to wear the chicken suit. It was hot. It was itchy. And he’d already gotten roughed up briefly by a couple of his fellow students before the pep rally. football3

The suit was rented just for the rally as a way to mock the other team’s mascot, an eagle. But he didn’t want to go through with it anymore and pleaded with the athletic director to let him off the hook. Instead, she threatened him with the $75 cost of the rental if he didn’t keep it on and head to the pep rally as intended, where he was slated to engage in a “mock fight” with the football team. He acquiesced. It didn’t go well.

When it was all over, he suffered a traumatic brain injury that he will likely grapple with the rest of his life. Now, the school district has agreed to pay $10.5 million to settle the case after jurors found the school district 100 percent liable for the former student’s injuries. The settlement offer was extended just days after the verdict was reached, but in advance of the damages portion of the trial. 

During the trial, plaintiff’s attorney actually at one point donned the chicken suit and laid it out before the jury so they could see up close for themselves.

Plaintiff accused the school district of encouraging the dangerous stunt and then failing to take measures to quickly pull the other students off him when it was clear it had gone too far.

According to CVN.com, the incident happened in 2010. The plaintiff, who was also the senior class president, entered the pep rally and was soon thereafter dogpiled by 30 other students, including the school’s football players, who punched and kicked him on the floor of the gym while students, teachers and administrators looked on.

Not only did the teen suffer broken ribs, bruises and lacerations, he incurred a traumatic brain injury. On top of that, he suffered severe damage to his pituitary gland. He was forced to spend six months in a brain injury treatment center, missing out on the rest of his senior year in high school. He’s lagged behind his peers academically ever since. Now 24, he also struggles with anxiety, depression and memory problems. He is often disoriented and speaks with a slur.

Lawyers for the school had argued the personal injury plaintiff wasn’t formally diagnosed with a brain injury until a handful of years after the incident, and there was no proof of causal correlation between his injuries and the incident at the school.

However, following the announcement of the settlement, a spokeswoman for the district did an about-face. She said the district would “humbly accept that responsibility” of being found 100 percent liable for the incident. She said administrators should never have allowed the incident to occur in the first place. That played a role in the district’s ultimate decision to settle the case, and the goal now is to reevaluate the district’s practices and policies to make sure such an incident never occurs again.

Lawsuits against school districts and other government agencies can be especially challenging. Such case should only be trusted to an experienced Boston injury attorney.

If you have suffered personal injury in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Calif. school district to pay student $10.5M over chicken suit attack, June 29, 2016, CBS News

More Blog Entries:

Report: 1 in 5 Hospitals Falls Short on “Never Events,” June 30, 2016, Boston Brain Injury Lawyer