Loyola Sued After CPS Student Injured at LUREC

Photo courtesy of Loyola University ChicagoLoyola argues the Chicago Public Schools student failed to look out for his own safety, and it isn’t the university’s responsibility to install an automatic closing gate or post warnings of the potential dangers the gate could cause.

Loyola and the father of a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) student are in the midst of a lawsuit over who’s responsible after the student was injured on Loyola’s Retreat and Ecology Campus (LUREC) in 2017.

The student’s father has alleged Loyola is at fault, while Loyola claims the student is at least partially to blame for his injury and it occurred under the supervision of CPS.

The original personal injury complaint, which was filed Oct. 4, 2018, requests the university pay $50,000 in damages for the student’s injuries, visible scarring, losses and damages plus attorney’s fees and other court costs. The lawsuit has yet to reach a resolution.

The father couldn’t be reached for comment.

The student was attending an eighth grade retreat at LUREC — a 98-acre campus in Woodstock, Illinois where outside groups can host retreats — through Ole A. Thorp Elementary Scholastic Academy on Oct. 5, 2017. During the retreat, he slipped on debris and fell on a basketball court located on the campus, according to a court document outlining the student’s injury.

According to the injury report, the student hit his head on the fork latch of a gate marking the entrance to the court. He was then rushed to a nearby hospital where his wound was treated with seven staples. The injury cost his family nearly $4,000 in medical bills, the injury report said, and the son was left with a two-inch scar on his head, partially on his forehead.

The family’s attorney and Loyola spokesperson Evangeline Politis declined to comment because of ongoing litigation. Loyola’s attorney didn’t respond to The Phoenix’s request for comment.

The plaintiff, who brought the case against Loyola, claims the university improperly managed its campus by overlooking the possible risk the gate posed and failing to implement an automatic closing gate to avoid injury. The plaintiff also said Loyola didn’t adequately warn people using the court of the gate’s potential threat and were “otherwise careless and negligent in the operation of its premises,” according to the personal injury report.  

Loyola, however, said it doesn’t have a responsibility to install an automatic closing gate or post warnings of potential danger. Instead, Loyola claims, the student had a duty of reasonable care — meaning he had a responsibility to act in a way that wouldn’t put him at risk.  

The university argues the student failed to look out for his own safety. It said he could have shut the gate behind him, made sure it was closed so it wouldn’t pose danger while playing and taken note of any debris present on the court.

Before attending the retreat, the father and son signed a written waiver of liability which absolved Loyola from responsibility in cases such as injury “in the challenge course programming and activities” at LUREC, according to court records. The challenge course is a low and high ropes course intended to encourage teamwork and problem-solving skills through physical and mental challenges, according to LUREC’s website.

The plaintiff argues while they signed the waiver, it doesn’t apply to the basketball court as it isn’t part of the actual “challenge course” on the campus.  

However, Loyola said it also entered into a written contract with the CPS elementary school which required the elementary school to “provide adequate, reasonable and appropriate supervision of all minor persons” during the retreat.

Loyola says the elementary school was negligent in fulfilling these requirements, specifically that it failed to look out for the students, remove any debris from the court before allowing students to play on it, ensure the gate was closed and provide appropriate supervision of the kids while they played.

With this, Loyola claimed its role in the damages, if any, is less than “25 percent” of the total fault attributed to the student, his school and the other defendants involved.

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