The Seattle School Board will vote Wednesday whether to approve a $325,000 settlement with a former Nathan Hale High School student who says he suffered a spinal injury during a weightlifting class in 2010.
Seattle Public Schools is considering a $325,000 settlement with a former high-school student who says he fractured his spine during a weightlifting class in 2010.
David Shiplett, who attended Nathan Hale High School, alleges in a lawsuit that a strength-training instructor directed him to lift as much as he could until his muscles failed. With no spotter or safety equipment, the complaint says, Shiplett squatted 250 pounds — nearly twice his body weight — and injured his spine.
His lawsuit claims the school’s strength-training program was improperly supervised and subjected Shiplett to “excessive, unreasonable, and completely unnecessary danger.”
The spinal injury has resulted in expensive long-term care and permanent disability, his attorney said in court documents.
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Shiplett’s complaint names the school district, strength-training instructor and cross-country coach Allison King, Nathan Hale principal Jill Hudson and athletic director Darby Haskins, as well as the Nathan Hale High School Foundation, which had raised money to pay volunteer coaches at the school.
The complaint says the district failed to follow proper safety measures, failed to use “reasonable care” in hiring a strength-training instructor, and failed to create a safe strength-training program.
A district spokeswoman declined to comment on the details of the case or say why the school district’s attorneys recommended a settlement rather than letting the case proceed to trial.
The Seattle School Board’s executive committee — made up of board President Sherry Carr and two other members — discussed the lawsuit June 4 and recommended the full School Board approve the $325,000 settlement.
In documents briefing members of the School Board, which will vote Wednesday on whether to approve the settlement, the district said a trial would mean additional legal costs and likely more damages requested by Shiplett. The amount a jury might think Shiplett deserves, the documents said, is uncertain.
According to the School Board documents, the case is scheduled for trial in King County Superior Court in late June.
Calls to attorneys representing the family and the weightlifting instructor were not returned Tuesday. King coached cross-country at Nathan Hale this year, according to the school district.