FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – The father of a 12-year-old girl is alleging negligence by Florence County School District 1 after his daughter was dropped off her school bus in 2016 with alcohol poisoning, according to lawsuit filed in May. The lawsuit also alleges the girl told a psychiatrist that she was forced to perform oral sex on a student years earlier in fourth grade.
The parent and student are listed as John and Jane Doe in the lawsuit to protect their identities. The suit was filed on May 26, 2017 by Patrick McLaughlin of the Wukela Law Firm against Florence County School District 1 and the South Carolina Department of Education.
The lawsuit alleges that in September of 2016, Jane Doe, who was in seventh grade at Sneed Middle School at the time, was found lying on the ground face down in a puddle of water unresponsive after being dropped off by the school bus. She was taken to a nearby hospital, and was diagnosed with alcohol poisoning, as her blood-alcohol level was .271, over three times the legal limit for DUI. She was also suffering acute respiratory failure with hypoxia.
John Doe then contacted Sneed Middle School to find out how his daughter could have gotten alcohol poisoning while in the care of the school, the lawsuit states. The parents then reviewed video from the school bus, which showed Jane Doe doubled over between the seat and the seat in front of her, with her head down. At one point, the driver said to Jane Doe, "Young lady, isn't this your stop?" suggesting that she was unaware of her surroundings.
Jane Doe then attempted to stand up and collect her items, and dropped them, the lawsuit states. She then collapsed and fell to the floor, tried to stand up, and fell over again. The driver said, "What's wrong with you? Do I need to call the ambulance or something?" and then said, "Nah, ain't nothing wrong with you."
Jane Doe continued to have difficulty getting on her feet, the lawsuit continues. It states the driver opened the doors and Jane Doe "basically rolls out of the door straight onto the ground."
Jane Doe then headed down the road in the opposite direction of her house, and then collapsed face down in a puddle, the lawsuit states. The driver got out, walked up to check on her, then turned around, shrugged his shoulders, and walked back to the bus, leaving her face down in the puddle. The driver then relayed information over the radio, asking the base to contact Doe's parents and an send an ambulance. Bystanders came in and start trying to assist Doe. Eventually, her parents and EMS arrived, and she was transported to a hospital.
Jane Doe spent three days undergoing treatment at a hospital, and was then taken to an out-of-town facility where she was housed for about five days, the suit states.
During the course of her treatment there, it was discovered that Doe was suffering from depression, according to the lawsuit. While being assessed by a psychiatrist, she disclosed that she had been forced to participate in oral sex with another student in the bathroom while she was in fourth grade at Royall Elementary.
The lawsuit is claiming that FSD1 and the SCDOE exhibited gross negligence in their failure to properly supervise, protect and control Jane Doe. Specifically, the suit contends that they failed to protect Doe from harm, failed to provide adequate safety measures, failed to monitor Doe and the other students, failed to supervise and train employees in recognizing dangerous medical conditions, and failed to protect Doe by not timely recognizing her medical emergency when she was clearly in medical distress.
The suit seeks actual and consequential damages resulting from personal injury, including disability, suffering, stress, anguish, anxiety, and medical costs, in an amount to be determined by a jury.
Florence County School District One representatives have been asked for comment.