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Ben Glass
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Windsprints in 90 degree weather lead to death, says lawsuit

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On Thursday, March 6, a $25 million lawsuit was filed, alleging that the wrongful death of a Richlands High School freshman in September was the result of his gym teacher forcing him to do wind sprints in 90-degree temperatures, regardless of school officials knowing that he had a heart condition which prohibited physical fitness activity.

The suit, filed by the boy’s mother in Tazewell County Circuit Court, says that Kevin J. Stallard II had a medical excuse from a pediatric cardiologist clearly stating that physical-fitness activities in gym class were prohibited.

The suit alleges that Bradley S. Strong, physical education teacher, ignored the health information, forcing the boy to participate in basketball and do wind sprints in high temperature conditions.

According to the suit, school officials, including Strong and Angela Cox, the school nurse, did not “take appropriate steps to immediately render emergency first aid” and failed to contact emergency responders for approximately 20 minutes after the boy’s collapse in front of fellow students in gym class. On September 6, he suffered a fatal heart attack.

According to the suit, emergency responders were only called after school officials contacted to boy’s father to ask if he had a history of seizures or passing out. The suit says he told them to call for help.
The suit claims school officials treated Stallard for seizures, but did not attempt CPR, and also failed to provide his medical information to rescue workers.

Patricia Stallard, the 14-year-old boy’s mother, said she told Karen Webb, the principal, of her son’s medical condition and also called the school to speak with Strong after finding out earlier in the school year that her son was being forced to participate. The suit says he failed to return her call.

Note from Virginia Personal Injury Attorney Ben Glass: generally school employees are immune from suit except for “gross negligence.” I’d usually say that suits against Virginia public schools are very tough because of the immunity granted schools. This case sounds awful, though. A gym teacher having kids do windsprints in 90 degree weather?

If that’s true it sounds outrageous. There are two sides to every story and it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.