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Jury Awards $2.5 Million to Family of Oswego High School Student

Our attorneys are always saddened to hear of tragic loss of young people in our community. It is all too often that young people are entrusted in the care of others, and even though these people or entities are aware they owe a legal duty to care for these young people, they breach that legal duty with negligence or disregard for the young person’s safety, resulting in wrongful death.

In 2008, according to a recent article by the Chicago Tribune, a young man member of the community and Oswego High School student, died after he suffered an asthma attack and collapsed in his English class. He was rushed to the emergency room, but unfortunately did not regain his breath and had no pulse. According to the hospital autopsy, the cause of death was bronchial asthma. Being only months from high school graduation, his mother then had to bury her son with the money she had set aside for his graduation party and college tuition.

Several months later, the victim’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Oswego-based District 308 and the teacher who was instructing the class at the time of her son’s collapse. In the lawsuit, the victim’s family argued that the district and teacher failed to get quick and appropriate medical care after he suffered an asthma attack, which resulted in his death. Both the district and the teacher denied these allegations. While the teacher was eventually dropped from the lawsuit, just this last month this case went to trial. After four days of deliberation, the jury found that the school district “acted with utter indifference or conscious disregard for the safety” of the victim.

In this case the jury’s verdict made it clear that the victim was owed a legal duty by his school. According to depositions and court records, during the day of his death, the victim was sitting in the front of his English class, and the student behind him could hear him wheezing and breathing heavily. About only 10 to 20 minutes into class, the victim fell to the floor and collapsed. An ambulance report stated that the victim told the teacher he was suffering from chest pains before he collapsed. His health file showed he had asthma and took medication for it, and that all of his teachers were informed of his medical state.

Such cases where victims suffer serious injury – and in the worst cases, death – where another party owed a duty to protect the victim and keep them safe are incredibly unfortunate. These stories are even more disheartening when they occur to young victims who trusted they were being taken care of and but for negligence or disregard for their well-being could have lived much longer and reached a lifetime of potential that laid ahead of them. That is why our attorneys are passionate about representing families for cases like these. Even though a lawsuit will not bring back the life of a tragically lost loved one, holding a negligent and wrongdoing party accountable under the law brings families justice and closure. The same article elaborates that the victim’s mother felt that the verdict made her feel that something was being done to recognize what happened to her son and family was wrong. The verdict made her feel she was in the right to continue this fight for seven years to obtain justice, even though no dollar amount would ever be enough nor measure up to her beloved son’s life.

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