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School district being sued after student fell down air duct five years ago in Nanaimo

Parent suing SD68 and another student in relation to 2017 incident at Dover Bay Secondary
Legal action has been initiated by the parent of a student that fell down an air shaft at Dover Bay Secondary School in June 2017. (News Bulletin file photo)

A parent of a Nanaimo student who was injured after falling down an air shaft on school grounds five years ago is suing the school district and another student.

Emergency crews were called to Dover Bay Secondary School in June 2017 and performed a technical rope rescue to pull out the student. A notice of civil claim was subsequently filed by the injured student’s parent against Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools and another student and parent. The student who was injured fell five metres “through an open access hatch to an exhaust shaft” opened by another student, the notice of claim alleges.

The student who fell suffered leg fractures, an ankle dislocation, a thigh contusion and injuries to his back and wrist, according to the notice. The student who allegedly opened the hatch was negligent for “causing the lock and/or the chain to the access hatch of the exhaust shaft to be cut when he knew or ought to have known that such actions would be unsafe to do so,” the notice claims.

The court documents also allege that the school district failed in its responsibility of care and to ensure reasonable safety on the school site.

The plaintiffs seek general and special damages for pain and costs for medical treatment, medication and rehabilitation.

In their response, the family of the student named in the lawsuit denies the incident took place “in the manner or time as alleged” or that he “caused or contributed” to the incident. They claim the student who was hurt failed “to exercise reasonable care and prudent judgment to ensure his own personal safety in all the circumstances.”

Additionally, the student who was hurt didn’t “notify anyone of any concerns regarding the area surrounding the access hatch, and general area where the fall occurred, prior to the fall,” stated the response from the second student’s parent.

The school district, in its response, denied that SD68 or any staff members were “negligent or in breach of a duty of care, statutory or otherwise, as alleged or at all.” If the first student suffered injury or loss, which the school district denies, it “was caused or contributed to by the negligence of the plaintiff and/or was caused or contributed to by the negligence of [another student],” the school district’s response stated.

None of the claims have been proven in court.

In an e-mail, Dale Burgos, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ spokesperson, said the district had no comment.

Applications were filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo today, Oct. 25, according to court services, and a trial is scheduled to begin in the spring in Nanaimo.

– files from Chris Bush/News Bulletin

RELATED: Emergency crews pull student from duct at Dover Bay school

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Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

I joined Black Press in 2010 and cover education, court and RDN. I am a Ma Murray and CCNA award winner.
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