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Family of girl impaled by golf club during gym class files $20M lawsuit

Family of girl impaled by golf club files suit

The family of a southern Ontario teen who suffered severe brain injuries after being impaled by a sawed-off golf club during gym class has filed a lawsuit for more than $20 million.

Madison Arseneault's family alleges the city of Windsor, Ont., the school board and teachers were negligent and failed to ensure the 15-year-old's safety during gym class held on city-run property last year.

They say Arseneault, who continues to experience partial paralysis, cognitive impairment and a number of other symptoms, requires care around the clock and her life has been forever changed.

In a statement of claim filed Wednesday, her parents also say they have incurred significant costs as a result of the incident and should be compensated for that, as well as for the loss of care and companionship they would have received from their daughter.

The allegations have not been proven in court and no statements of defence have been filed.

"We continue to hope for a good recovery and we sincerely wish the young lady and her family well," Jason Moore, a spokesman for the City of Windsor, said Thursday in an email, adding "due to ongoing litigation it would be inappropriate for us to comment further."

The school board was not immediately available for comment.

Arseneault was injured while running with her Grade 8 gym class at the Ford Test Track in Windsor.

The city had set up sawed-off golf clubs connected by low-lying wire as guides for crews painting white lines on the grass, and when Arseneault tripped over the wire, one of the golf clubs impaled her skull and went into her brain.

The incident has left her with persistent symptoms, the suit alleges, including weakness, atrophy and chronic pain on her left side, cognitive impairment, impaired vision, headaches, loose teeth and nightmares.

The lawsuit alleges the city failed to provide safe premises for the students, employed equipment that is inherently dangerous, and failed to alert pedestrians to the presence of the wires.

It also alleges the school board and teachers failed to ensure Arseneault's safety while at the track, to warn the city that it was using the track and to provide adequate supervision for students.

"Madison has been unable to carry on her normal tasks of living and has lost the enjoyment of life," the lawsuit reads. "She will continue to suffer from the effects of her injuries and will continue to lose enjoyment of life for the balance of her natural life.

"She has suffered from traumatic, emotional and nervous upset and her manner of living has been changed."

The teen has also had to stop going to school and cannot work "in any capacity," which compromises her ability to support herself in the future, the document says.

The family's lawyer, Jennifer Bezaire, said they decided to sue in light of "the severity of Madison's injuries and the astronomical costs to provide her with the care she requires."

"They are extremely concerned about her future and are looking for compensation from those responsible for her fall to ensure Madison has everything she requires to cope with her devastating injuries," she said in an email.

- by Paola Loriggio in Toronto


Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press