First Jury Trial Since Covid Shutdown Results in $850,000 Verdict Against Horry County School District for Gross Negligence in Failing to Prevent Football Injury
On April 15, 2021, a civil jury in Horry County awarded $850,000.00 in damages in a gross negligence case against the Horry County School District. The suit involved a high school senior who received a diagnosis of post concussive syndrome after receiving a head injury during a football game played on October 20, 2016 between the North Myrtle Beach High School B-Team football team (comprised of students from North Myrtle Beach Middle School) and the Carolina Forrest High School B-Team Football team (comprised of students from Ocean Bay Middle School). This is believed to be the first civil jury verdict in South Carolina since the Covid shutdown in the spring of 2020. The Plaintiff was represented by Evans Moore, LLC.
Evidence presented in the trial showed that the student received a head injury at some point shortly before halftime, but was never pulled from the game. As a left-tackle on both the offensive and defensive line, the student played the overwhelming majority of the game except when the special teams were called in. Playing through a potential brain injury can lead to issues, including scond impact syndrome.
Horry County does not require that the B-Team football players have a certified athletic trainer present for both teams. Each Junior Varsity and Varsity team has 2-3 certified athletic trainers walking the sidelines for each team, but the B-Teams relies on the home school to provide a single trainer for both teams. Evidence showed that the trainer present for Carolina Forrest who was supposed to cover both teams did not assess any of the players on her own team and spent zero time on the sidelines of the away team, North Myrtle Beach. The jury found that the District acted with Gross Negligence by allowing the B-Team to take the field without a certified athletic trainer present for North Myrtle Beach, and by failing to assess the student for injuries once the concussion took place.
The student was subsequently diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome, and was treated locally by Dr. Frederick Daniels, the MUSC neurology Department, and neurologist Marshall White, MD of Mt. Pleasant. The District retained experts from Shreveport, Louisiana and Augusta, Georgia to attempt to criticize the care provided by these local physicians.
Scott Evans, of Evans Moore, LLC, one of Logan’s attorneys, said:
“The last place our client wanted to be was a courtroom. He is a senior in high school, he wanted to be home in Aiken. A trial is a traumatic, time-consuming, and expensive process. He didn’t want to go to Court, and he had miniscule settlement demands, he just wanted to keep his mom from losing her home by paying the mounting costs of his ongoing treatment. I don’t even think that the District wanted to go to Court. The District’s outside counsel, its athletic director (Roger Dixon) and the head trainer for North Myrtle Beach (Keeter Hayes) showed Logan great compassion and respect throughout this process. The one person who showed zero respect through this process and who ensured that both parties were headed for a long trial was the representative of the South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund, the District’s insurance company. Citizen’s do not realize how much power that these insurance companies who insure our state entities and municipalities hold. This representative relayed to my client and his mother that she would rather see the money spent on hiring trial experts to defend her insured than to allow that money to go toward’s Logan’s future and past medical costs. Those experts she hired turned out to be biased, flip-flopping pawns who the jury rejected. That was not money well-spent.
The upside is that any of these Districts who were wondering whether it was fine to try and skate by with one trainer on the sidelines now know – it’s not safe and you’re officially on notice.”
James B. Moore III, one of Logan’s attorneys said: “We are incredibly proud of Logan for his courage to take this case the distance, not only for himself, but for the next generation of young athletes in Horry County. Thankfully, Logan has made a great recovery and we have very high expectations for his bright future.”
Type of Case: Gross Negligence and Title IX violations against Richland County Sheriff’s Department and Richland County School District 2 on behalf of Jane Doe, a Minor.
Injuries Alleged: Jane Doe alleged that Richland County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Jamel Bradley made inappropriate sexual advances, to included unwanted touching and kissing, towards her during her junior year while attending Spring Valley High School. These sexual advances took place while Deputy Bradley was assigned to Spring Valley High School to serve as a school resource officer. The lawsuit was brought pursuant to the SC Tort Claims Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
As a result of the sexual advances, and the Defendants’ response to her reports, including Richland County School District 2’s failure to reassign Deputy Bradley, Jane Doe experienced an exacerbation of her preexisting depressive disorder necessitating mental health treatment and counseling. Additionally, it was alleged that due to the actions of the Defendants, Jane Doe was forced to participate in home schooling, which negatively impacted her grade point average.
At the time the Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit, Deputy Bradley was serving as a school resource officer, but had been reassigned to a different school district. During the course of the litigation, Deputy Bradley was terminated and arrested for criminal sexual conduct with a different victim, that allegedly took place after his reassignment to Richland County School District 1.
Court: U.S. District Court of South Carolina, Columbia Division
Result: The case settled through mediation with Karl Folkens. Plaintiff settled with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department for the statutory cap of $300,000.00 – the maximum amount payable for a single occurrence pursuant to the S.C. Tort Claims Act. Plaintiff settled with Richland County School District 2 for $600,000.00. Additionally, Richland County Sheriff’s Department was ordered to pay $10,500 in attorneys fees for failing to comply with the S.C. Freedom of Information Act
Summary of Facts and Allegations
This case began in May of 2018, when the Plaintiff served a request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for public records maintained by Richland County Sheriff’s Department pertaining to Plaintiff Jane Doe’s reports of inappropriate sexual advances by Deputy Jamel Bradley, a school resource officer at Spring Valley High School. After refusing to produce any of the requested documents, the Plaintiff filed a civil action for injunctive relief pursuant to FOIA in the Richland County Court of Common Pleas. On January 25, 2019, the Honorable R. Keith Kelly granted Plaintiff an injunction and awarded the Plaintiff attorneys’ fees and costs in the amount of $10,515.00 based on the Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s violation of the FOIA statutes. Additionally, it was ordered that Richland County Sheriff’s Department be “permanently enjoined and restrained from asserting exemptions from mandatory disclosures that have no legal or factual justification.”
After receiving the Court Ordered FOIA production from Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Plaintiff learned that Jane Doe was at least the fifth person to report inappropriate behavior by Deputy Bradley to Spring Valley High School during his tenure as s School Resource Officer. It was alleged that after each report of inappropriate conduct with female teenage students, Richland County Sheriff’s Department did a minimal investigation and either transferred him to a different school or, at most, gave him a verbal reprimand. It was further alleged that the Richland County School District 2 neglected to conduct a single Title IX investigation, despite notice of each and every report of perceived inappropriate sexual relationships with female students.
During the pendency of the litigation, Plaintiff Counsel’s investigation revealed additional information which ultimately led to the arrest of Deputy Bradley for criminal sexual conduct. He is currently facing multiple criminal charges based on allegations of criminal sexual conduct and sexual battery with students at Spring Valley High School.
Attorney James B. Moore III stated, “It is reprehensible that a school resource officer, who is sworn to serve and protect, would use his power to prey on the most vulnerable of all people – children. We firmly believe that without Jane Doe’s courage and valor, this officer would still be preying on children in Richland County.”
Attorney Scott Evans added: “This could have stopped long before 2019. The parents of students within Richland County School District 2 need to be asking their administrators some tough questions.”
The attorneys of Evans Moore have recently secured a $1,175,000.00 partial settlement in an ongoing medical malpractice case. The case involves allegations of a failure to diagnose a serious medical condition. The defendants denied any wrongdoing. The case will continue to trial against the remaining parties in early 2016.
On September 1, 2015, attorneys James B. Moore III and Scott C. Evans recovered a $375,000 settlement from a convenience store operator in connection with its employee filing a false police report resulting in their client being arrested and wrongfully imprisoned for 8 hours at a local detention center. The lawsuit was filed in February of 2014 alleging negligence, malicious prosecution, and false arrest. The convenience store operator and employee denied all responsibility. After successfully arguing pre-trial motions and selecting a jury, the company paid $375,000 in exchange for a dismissal of all claims.
On August 26, 2015, a Greenville County jury awarded $375,000 to a worker who was injured while driving a business-owned vehicle on Interstate 85.
Their client, Paulino Camacaro, had been driving a vehicle owned by his employer, a painting company, when he was sideswiped on Interstate 85 in Greenville while heading to his home in Atlanta. Mr. Camacaro sustained a herniated disc and lost his painting job of 18 years after the crash. At the time of trial, he had accrued $41,000 in medical bills, which did not include a back surgery that his doctors recommended.
Throughout the course of the trial, defense argued that the Plaintiff’s back injuries were preexisting. The Defendant’s highest pretrial offer was $60,000.