The family of an eighth grader injured by a falling goal post has filed a claim against the Sweetwater Union High School District, claiming the school didn’t adequately supervise the boy or ensure the post was staked down.
The claim is a precursor to a lawsuit and seeks at least $10 million in damages, though the family’s attorney says it’s still not known the extent of the damages of medical costs.
The boy, Marco LaFarga, was hurt the morning of March 20 during a PE class at Eastlake Middle School when he and classmates were playing near the goal post and it suddenly fell over, hitting him in the head.
Medics airlifted him to Rady Children’s Hospital and he was hospitalized for a month in critical condition. His condition is improving and he has returned home from the hospital this week.
The eighth grader suffered a skull fracture and was in a medically induced coma for two and a half weeks. Marco needed physical therapy to learn to walk and talk again, a family attorney told NBC 7.
The claim, filed by attorney Terry Singleton, alleges Marco’s “physical education coach, his teachers and other school employees failed to adequately supervise the children playing in the playground area during physical education such that this event occurred.”
The claim also alleges that coaches, teachers and maintenance workers “failed to select, install, erect, anchor and maintain the soccer goal posts to ensure they were safe for students to play with and around.”
Reached for comment about the claim on Friday, a school district spokesperson said that the district could not talk, citing the active litigation.
At the time of the incident, district spokesperson Manny Rubio told NBC 7 that the goal posts were standard at every school. They are not normally anchored down because they're meant to be able to be moved around.
But Horatio Barraza, the family’s attorney and co-counsel for Singleton, said consumer protection guidelines call for the goal posts to be anchored.
“The Consumer Protection Safety Commission’s) guidelines mandate these goal posts should be anchored,” he said. “This particular goal post was not anchored, which is what caused it to topple over.”
Similar incidents have happened across the country. In 2011, Illinois lawmakers passed a law, making it mandatory for tip resistant soccer goals to be used on fields after one toppled over and killed a 6-year-old.
Marco's family hopes for a similar measure implemented here.
Here's the full claim: