Family sues over son's injuries from fight at Hurricane High

By Kelly Holleran | Jan 1, 2009

PUTNAN COUNTY -- After their son received a fractured jaw and paralysis of his lower lip while attending Hurricane High School, an Arizona couple has filed suit against the Putnam County Board of Education and the family whose son allegedly caused the injury.

Craig Wright received the injuries during a fight Travis Taylor instigated in the boys' bathroom at the school, according to the complaint Craig and his parents, Gary and Linda, filed Dec. 29 in Putnam County Circuit Court.

It was Jan. 6, 2005, between first and second block classes when Craig stopped at the boys' restroom, the suit states.

After seeing Craig walk into the bathroom, a small group of students, including Taylor, also entered, the Wrights claim.

"Immediately upon entering the restroom, Travis engaged Craig and asked him if he wanted to fight," the suit states. "Craig declined his offer and attempted to go about his business."

But Travis punched Craig in the left side of the face, according to the complaint.

"Craig fell helplessly to the ground while Travis grabbed his head and neck and began twisting it as if he was trying to break his neck," the suit states.

Only after a student entered the bathroom did the fight end, the Wrights claim.

The same student helped Craig to the principal's office where a nurse called his parents, according to the complaint.

"Linda Wright rushed to HHS, picked Craig up, and took him immediately to the Emergency Room at Putnam General Hospital," the suit states.

The fighting between the boys began as name-calling during the 2004-05 school year – their freshman year of high school, the Wrights claim.

One of their teachers, Glenna Ragel, sent the boys to a school counselor, Duane Swanson, in either December 2004 or January 2005 to address the name-calling, according to the complaint.

Still, Travis did not end the name-calling and the day before the restroom fight, Travis allegedly approached Craig and slapped him two to three times in the face, according to the complaint.

However, Gary and Linda Wright claim they were never informed of their son's problems at school until the fight in the bathroom.

Because of the fight and the name-calling, Craig suffered psychological and emotional injuries and lost three years of education, according to the complaint.

He suffered emotional distress, annoyance and inconvenience, the suit states.

Gary and Linda incurred medical costs because of Craig's injuries and their consortium with their son has been substantially diminished, they claim.

"Plaintiffs Gary and Linda Wright have experienced strain in their relationship with Craig," the suit states.

Travis engaged in harassment, intimidation and bullying of Craig despite the Putnam County Board of Education's policy against such behavior, the Wrights claim.

The Putnam County Board of Education breached its duty to exercise ordinary care to keep and maintain the school in a safe and secure condition and to protect Craig from injuries by failing to provide adequate supervision to prevent the ongoing dispute between Craig and Travis, according to the complaint.

It also breached its duty by failing to inform Craig's parents of his ongoing dispute with Travis, the suit states.

"Defendant Board of Education acted with intent to inflict emotional distress and/or acted so recklessly when it was certain or substantially certain that such distress would result from their conduct," the suit states.

Travis's parents, Troy and Tammy Taylor, had a duty to control the conduct of their son, but neglected to do so, the Wrights claim.

In the nine-count suit, the Wrights are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, plus costs, attorney's fees and other relief the Court deems proper.

They will be represented by Damon L. Ellis of Mani, Ellis and Layne in Charleston.

Putnam County Circuit Court case number: 08-C-414

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