A young Connecticut man who was paralyzed from the chest down in 2002 while pole vaulting at Southern Connecticut State University has won $6.4 million in damages from the Connecticut affiliate of USA Track and Field.
Brandon White, 25, won the civil lawsuit from a six-member New Haven Superior Court jury.
The ruling came seven years after White, then a high school senior and a member of the Wilton High School boys’ track team, came to SCSU’s Moore Field House to compete in the USATF Junior Olympics Championships.
White’s attorney, John Wynne Jr. of New Haven, noted White sustained the injuries the week before his high school graduation. He attended the ceremony in a wheelchair.
After he arrived for the competition, White was told by USATF/CT representatives to warm up inside the field house, according to Wynne’s legal complaint.
“While attempting a warm-up maneuver after running down the runway of the pole vault area, the plaintiff fell and struck the plant box (the metal box where the pole is planted), causing him to sustain and suffer serious physical injuries and losses,” the writ said. White “violently struck his head and back on the vault box,” Wynne wrote. The teenager suffered a spinal cord injury, “resulting in complete paraplegia.”
Wynne said White was hurt because of the carelessness and/or negligence of the USATF/CT representatives who “failed to adequately supervise and monitor” the pole vaulting warm-ups and failed to inspect the area for safety.
Wynne specifically cited a baseball batting cage that obstructed part of the pole vault runway, and he said the runway was only about 105 feet long instead of 131 feet.
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