Mother says son left permanently incapacitated after falling at school

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Brenda Gillespie files lawsuit against school district

The mother of a disabled teenager who claims her son was left permanently incapacitated as the result of injuries suffered when he fell at school has filed a lawsuit against the Eastern School District.


In papers filed this week with the P.E.I. Supreme Court Brenda Gillespie asked the court to award her son, Brenton Organ, a plethora of damages.

Under the heading of special damages Gillespie asked the court to award her son the cost of drugs, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, the cost of full-time caregivers for the foreseeable future, the cost of institutional care or special accommodations when she is no longer able to provide his care and support and travel costs for medical care and treatments,

She's asking for damages to cover the loss of projected employment.

General damages are being sought for aggravation of pre-existing conditions, new injuries, contusions and abrasions.

She is also seeking court costs.

Organ suffers from a disease that substantially reduces his mobility and sense of balance.

Because of that disease he requires hands-on physical assistance to go up and down stairs.

Court documents say Organ fell this past January at Birchwood Intermediate School while being moved from one floor to another with the assistance of a single female caregiver who was also moving another physically challenged child.

Gillespie alleges that towards the bottom of the stairs Organ was placed in a situation where he was not being physically supported or assisted by the caregiver and that it was at that moment that he fell one or more steps onto the bare, hard surface of the floor below.

She says her son landed on his head and shoulder and as a result sustained numerous head injuries, abrasions and contusions.

Organ's head injuries were such that he was transferred to the head trauma unit of a hospital in Moncton.

Gillespie claims that prior to that fall Organ required limited on-going medical attention and that doctors had indicated to her that the prognosis for his future development was such that he would at some point be trainable for employment in a limited but continuous capacity.

She says the injuries he suffered on or about Jan. 12 have rendered him permanently incapacitated in relation to training for employment, have left him in need of full-time personal care and attention for all of his personal needs and diminished his senses of smell and taste to the point that his appetite and willingness to eat have been impacted.

The incident has left him traumatized and fearful of being in school, she claims.

Gillespie's lawsuit claims Organ's injuries were caused by negligence by the Eastern School District.

She alleges, among other things, that the school failed, refused or neglected to comply with an undertaking given by school officials that Organ would be assisted on the stairs by one strong male caregiver or two female caregivers.

She said the school provided caregivers who lacked the training, skills or physical strength to attend to two adolescent disabled children.

It is also alleged that Organ was not permitted to use the school's elevator.

Gillespie alleges as well that the school failed to provide medical attention to Organ in a timely manner, exacerbating the injuries he sustained in the fall.

Lawyers for the Eastern School District are currently reviewing the matter.

The school district has 20 days from the filing of the action to file a statement of defence with the court.

This is the second time in less than a year that Gillespie has initiated legal action on her son's behalf.

Late last year a driver with Pat and the Elephant was charged with assaulting Organ after an incident in one of the company's vehicles.



Organizations: P.E.I. Supreme Court Brenda Gillespie, Birchwood Intermediate School

Geographic location: Moncton

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Recent comments

  • MMC
    August 15, 2010 - 23:48

    Although I can see how you might have went there, I'm willing to bet good money that you most likey had THE WRONG THOUGHT on this one. Two lawsuits against the same school/school board in the case of a challenged student COULD mean that the parent is trying to "profit off" the child's condition. But it COULD just as easily be a sign of a bigger systemic problem, a sign that many in the direct and indirect employ of school boards do not have proper training to meet the special needs of some students - training both to keep the students safe and that necessary to understand various conditions and learn how to manage behaviour. Would you be surprised to learn that the bus driver in this particular case pled guilty to assault? Check this out Given that he most likey had the power and legal resources of a union behind him, are you still so sure that the accusation was totally undounded, just a greedy parent trying to make a buck off of their child's condition? And then in some cases (like Brendon's) it looks like there's not just a lack of training but also a lack of caring involved. Did you notice that Brendon wasn't allowed to use the school's elevator? Were you aware of the fact that the school actually had TWO elevators (supposedly) available for students with disabilities? Things that make you go Hmmm... Often times where there's smoke there's fire. And that's particularly true when it comes to parents who are advocating for their challenged children. It's far from an easy job. And school boards in Nova Scotia (as well as the Dept of Ed) have a long way to go to ensure that their nice sounding rhetoric actually translates into what it is suppose to on the ground. Trust me. I know.

  • A real thought
    August 08, 2010 - 10:41

    At first, when reading this story, you feel for the child............................. then after reading the WHOLE story (especially the note of the other lawsuit) you really feel sorry for the child having a "mother" who would try to profit off of his condition like this! This woman should be ashamed of herself !! And ps........ move to the US they don't seem to look down on this as much as we do. Sad, sad, sad!