Judge OKs city’s $275,000 payout to Juneau family

Harborview Elementary School

Harborview Elementary School pictured on May 11, 2015. The lawsuit alleges the soccer injury occurred during a physical educatin class in 2016. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

A judge has approved a $275,000 settlement for the family of a Juneau elementary school student injured in a PE class.

Court documents said the Harborview Elementary fourth-grader was hit in the face by a soccer ball in 2016. The youngster suffered a concussion and was permanently blinded in one eye.

The family sued in February accusing the elementary PE teacher of inadequate training.

“The settlement is the product of a negotiation and compromise between the parties,” the family’s attorney Matt Singer said outside the courtroom. “The case involved an unfortunate and significant injury and we think it reflects a fair compromise for both parties.”

Judge Trevor Stephens approved the terms of the settlement Monday in Juneau Superior Court. In it, the school district admits no wrongdoing.

“The Juneau School District admits no fault – there was no fault,” said Clay Keene, the Ketchikan-based attorney retained by the city last August. “The decision to settle this matter was a business decision on the part of the district and the CBJ.”

Judge Trevor Stephens approved the terms of the settlement during a July 9, 2018 hearing in Juneau Superior Court (Photo by Jacob Resneck/KTOO)

The city spent about $105,000 in legal defense since at least August 2017. Add the settlement, and the total cost of the case rises to $380,000.

But the city’s insurance will cover all costs above $250,000. That makes the amount of tax money spent a quarter million dollars – still by far the highest payout in recent years.

“I don’t know of another claim like this that’s happened for some time with the city or the school district,” said Jennifer Mannix, the city’s risk management officer. She directs payouts from the city’s $7.7 million risk management fund.

There have been few large cash settlements – until this one.

“We’ve had a good five years as far as no large claims in the general liability area,” Mannix said.

The net proceeds of the six-digit settlement will be held in trust until the child turns 18 years old.

Editor’s Note: KTOO isn’t naming the family out of concern for the child’s privacy.

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