Pennsylvania Record

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Lawsuit against Stroudsburg Junior High says gym teacher forced student to participate after a concussion

Federal Court

By Charmaine Little | Aug 9, 2019

Basketball

WILKES-BARRE – A former student who was hit in the back of the head with a basketball during gym class is now suing the Stroudsburg Area School District in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

The suit states plaintiff Johna Fiedler, who suffered a concussion from a non-related snowboarding incident, was given clearance to sit out of physical activities in school. She alleges she was "forced" to play a game in gym class on June 11, 2014, that ended with her getting hit in the back of the head by a basketball. 

She named the school district, Superintendent John A. Toleno, Stroudsburg Junior High School Principal Ryan Cron and junior high gym teacher Joanna Kovacs Royer as defendants. The suit cites violation of the 14th Amendment, the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Fiedler alleged in the lawsuit that she was “forced to participate in gym class ... even though there was a substantial chance that she could incur another concussion in that class." Kovacs Royer allegedly said enough time had passed since the plaintiff's concussion and made her join in. 

“The deliberate indifference to the health, safety and welfare of the plaintiff in failing to adhere to the directions and mandates of the plaintiff’s treating concussion specialist and also in failing to adequately educate agents and employees on the causes, symptoms and dangers of traumatic head injuries was the common policy or custom of defendant, superintendent, and/or the defendant, district,” the suit states.

The plaintiff seeking damage for serious brain injuries, aggravation of preexisting post-concussion syndrome, significant cognitive deficiencies, short-term memory deficiencies, severe anxiety and other injuries.

Fiedler seeks punitive damages and a trial by jury. She is represented by Harry T. Coleman of the Law Office of Harry T. Coleman in Carbondale and David W. Saba of the Law Office of David W. Saba in Kingston.

U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania case number 3:19-cv-00983

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U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (Wilkes-Barre)

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