$18M Settlement in Lawsuit over Boy’s Death at California School


The parents of an 8-year-old boy with Down syndrome who died after falling while strapped to a chair in class five years ago have reached an $18 million settlement in their wrongful death lawsuit against a Southern California school district, attorneys said Wednesday.

Lawyers for the family of Moises Murrillo announced the deal during a news conference in the city of La Puente, east of Los Angeles, where he attended Sunset Elementary School.

Moises was unsupervised on May 31, 2017 when he fell backwards, striking his head on the floor and fracturing his neck, according to the lawsuit brought by Martin Murrillo and Roberta Gomez. The boy had been taken out of his special adaptive stroller by staff and strapped to a school chair, the lawsuit stated.

He went into cardiac arrest and was taken to a hospital, where he died on June 4, 2017 of spinal cord trauma, the court filing said.

Hacienda La Puente Unified School District “failed to provide safe surroundings” and allowed the vulnerable boy “to be unsupervised and unrestrained during his class,” the filing alleged.

In addition, the lawsuit said, the district did not have a policy in place to adequately supervise students with special needs like Moises inside and outside of their classrooms.

District officials didn’t immediately return a call Wednesday seeking comment on the settlement.

The family filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2018.

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