Student sues Lake Oswego School District over fall on icy sidewalk
The parents of a Lakeridge High student who slipped on a snowy, icy sidewalk in front of the school and fractured her back are suing the Lake Oswego School District for more than $1.7 million.
Jonathan and Marisa Rockwood claim the district failed to clear snow, ice and slush from the sidewalk on a wintry day in January 2016 when classes were delayed for two hours because of weather concerns.
The lawsuit, which was filed last week in Clackamas County Circuit Court, also claims Lakeridge Principal Jennifer Schiele was negligent for moving Taylor Rockwood from the sidewalk before medical personnel could assess her injuries.
The girl fractured two vertebrae when she fell, the lawsuit claims, and continues to suffer from symptoms that range from chronic back pain and muscle spasms to numbness, headaches and insomnia. The suit asks for $335,000 to cover medical bills and other out-of-pocket expenses, $1.4 million in non-economic damages and all associated legal fees.
Attempts to reach the Rockwoods for comment Tuesday evening were unsuccessful. As a matter of policy and on the advice of attorneys, the LOSD does not discuss pending litigation.
But according to the lawsuit, Marisa Rockwood dropped her daughter off in front of Lakeridge High at about 9:35 a.m. on Jan. 5, 2016; snow was on the ground, the lawsuit says, and freezing rain was falling.
As she negotiated the slick walkway, the lawsuit says, Taylor Rockwood — then a Pacer freshman — lost her balance and fell, landing directly on her back and buttocks. "She briefly lost consciousness and then, as she attempted to gather herself, discovered that she couldn't move her legs and feet," the lawsuit says.
Schiele and other school personnel rushed to the girl's side, the lawsuit acknowledges. But instead of waiting for medical personnel, the lawsuit says, Schiele and the others ignored Rockwood's claims of pain in her back and numbness in her legs and moved her into the school.
That decision, the lawsuit claims, only served to aggravate the injuries Rockwood suffered in the fall — an incident that never would have happened in the first place, the lawsuit says, if the sidewalk had been cleared or students warned of the dangerous conditions.
Rockwood — who is now a Lakeridge junior and a member of the school's water polo team — has undergone a variety of medical treatments in the two years since the fall, including steroid injections; massage, physical and occupational therapy; and psychological and pain-management counseling. But despite all of that, the lawsuit says, she is still unable to sit or stand for extended periods, cannot lift and carry packages and continues to suffer from anxiety, feelings of helplessness and depression.
In the future, the lawsuit says, Rockwood will require back surgery to replace discs or fuse vertebrae. She faces "extreme limitations" on common physical activities like driving and participation in sports like competetive swimming or running, the lawsuit says, and the injuries may even impair her ability to become pregnant one day or carry a baby to term.
Lake Oswego attorney Roger Harris is representing the family.