Parent of student with 'Brittle Bone Disease' sues Philly School Dist. for injuries

By Jon Campisi | Jan 24, 2012

The parent of a Philadelphia School District student afflicted with the condition commonly known as “Brittle Bone Disease” has filed a federal lawsuit against the educational institution, accusing the district of negligence in a classroom incident in which her son fractured numerous bones.

Philadelphia attorney Robert N. Braker, of the personal injury firm Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, filed the civil action against the Philadelphia School District Jan. 20 at federal court in Philadelphia on behalf of city resident Leurel Hart, parent of a minor student identified as Toni Blakely.

According to the lawsuit, Blakely became seriously injured after being struck by a falling metal cabinet at Widener Memorial School in the city’s Olney section on Feb. 5, 2010.

The complaint alleges that the cabinet was defective and that it was in need of serious maintenance at the time it fell on Blakely.

The incident allegedly occurred after Blakely was instructed by a substitute teacher to retrieve supplies being stored in the cabinet.

Blakely, who gets around with the use of a wheelchair, reportedly sustained multiple leg fractures that required surgical repair, including having to have titanium rods placed into his body.

The lawsuit accuses the school district of negligence for allowing a dangerous storage cabinet to exist in a classroom, for instructing Blakely to retrieve supplies from the cabinet knowing that he suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta, failing to properly inform school personnel of plaintiff’s condition, failing to give Blakely due notice of the cabinet’s condition, failing to protect the plaintiff and failing to adequately inspect the premises for hazardous conditions.

The lawsuit also accuses the school district of violating the federal Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination against handicapped persons in federally funded programs such as public education.

The lawsuit claims that school personnel dealing with Blakely were to be aware of his condition as per the conditions of his Individual Education Program, or IEP, which was implemented following a meeting in early October 2009.

As a result of his injuries, the suit states, Blakely had to expend large sums of money on hospitalizations and other medical treatment, he suffered cosmetic disfigurement that may be permanent, he incurred other financial losses, he suffered an aggravation of pre-existing conditions and he suffered great physical pain and mental anguish.

For all three counts listed in the lawsuit, the plaintiff demands judgment against the school district in excess of $150,000.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:12-cv-00326-JD.

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