A Chicago man injured on a mini-trampoline when he was an eighth-grade student at a South Side elementary school 18 years ago has settled a lawsuit with the Chicago Board of Education and a private youth center for almost $14.7 million, his attorneys said Thursday.
Ryan Murray, who was 13 at the time, was injured in a tumbling class on Dec. 14, 1992, at what was then Bryn Mawr Elementary School, the attorneys said. Murray, now 30, became a quadriplegic after he hit his head as he did a flip off a mini-trampoline onto a mat in the school’s gymnasium, the attorneys said.
The class was an extracurricular activity held during Murray’s lunch period. It made use of a mini-trampoline owned by the Chicago Public Schools and was supervised by an employee of the Chicago Youth Centers, a private group, according to a release from Murray’s attorneys.
The suit had been making its way through the courts for years. In July 2006, it was thrown out by the Illinois Supreme Court, which found that Murray did not have the right to sue the Board of Education because it is a government entity. It ruled the action that led to his injury had to be intentional to allow for an exception to the law against suing government bodies.
But Murray’s attorney at the time, Mike Reagan, persuaded the high court to hear the case again after arguing that school officials and others had conducted the class recklessly, without proper equipment and ignoring basic safety rules.
In 2007 the high court reversed itself in a 7-0 decision, noting that if a government body shows “an utter indifference or conscious disregard for the safety of others,” it can be sued for what is known as willful and wanton conduct. The case was then sent back to Cook County Circuit Court for trial, which now won’t be held because of Wednesday’s settlement.
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