Break dancing injury lawsuit settled

01/17/2014 1:09 PM |
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO

The Riverhead School District has agreed to a settlement with the family of a student who broke two teeth in 2008 during an unsupervised break-dancing practice on school campus, according to the family’s attorney.

The $75,000 settlement agreement was struck after a county civil jury found the district liable for damages, but before jurors specified an amount for damages, said attorney David Raimondo of Lake Grove.

The student and his mother — Marta Laboy — had been seeking $150,000 to pay for medical expenses and “past and prior pain and suffering,” he said.

“This was one that was a fair settlement for the district and the family,” Mr. Raimondo said.

District Superintendent Nancy Carney did not return a request for comment.

The suit claimed that the then-11-year-old boy injured himself June 3, 2008, while practicing for a school concert in the cafeteria at Aquebogue Elementary School.

The boy and a fellow student were rehearsing a break-dancing routine that involved one trick in which the boy would crouch down, and the other student would jump onto his back with one foot and then spring off as the boy stood up, according to court documents.

They had practiced the trick four or five times in the cafeteria and another 15 or more times previously as part of the student-choreographed routine, the documents state.

While the “entire cast of the concert was in the cafeteria singing and dancing,” the boy thought he heard his partner call off the trick during practice, leaving him unprepared for the jump. His partner landed on the boy’s head, driving his teeth into the cafeteria floor, according to the documents.

The boy had to undergo numerous root canals after two of his teeth subsequently “went dead,” Mr. Raimondo said.

The suit claims that teachers weren’t present to supervise the practice, and that no mats had been put down in the cafeteria to protect students.

Ms. Laboy also claims that although she was aware her son would be dancing in the concert, she was not asked to sign a consent form or waiver allowing him to participate.

The case has been pending since it was filed five years ago while the district pursued all its legal options, including a motion to have a judge issue a summary judgment in the case, which was denied.

“You can’t blame them for fighting it, but at some point you have to look at [your chances],” Mr. Raimondo said, adding that settlement will be paid from a state fund for districts and will not affect taxpayers.

The district offered to settle the case late last year, Mr. Raimondo said. The suit will be officially settled once a judge determines whether the settlement constitutes fair compensation for the boy’s injuries and claims.

psquire@timesreview.com