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Rochester Public Schools sued over gym class injury

Parent claims his son lost his hearing due to an accident during a game of broomball being played on ice.

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ROCHESTER — The parent of a student hurt in a game of broomball played during physical education class is suing Rochester Public Schools and two school employees for the loss of his son's hearing.

Jeffrey Hirvela has filed a civil lawsuit in Olmsted County Third Judicial District Court asking for at least $50,000 in compensation from the defendants, which include Rochester Public Schools, and Sara Farr and Brett Carroll, physical education teachers at John Adams Middle School.

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According to the lawsuit, Carroll and Farr were supervising a game of broomball — a game played on ice, similar to ice hockey but without ice skates, hockey sticks or pucks — during PE class Jan. 28, 2020. Hirvela's son, a member of the class, slipped on the ice and hit his right shoulder and head on the ice, which caused injuries including the permanent loss of hearing in the student's right ear.

The lawsuit states that protective equipment, including head gear, was available but was not provided to Hirvela's son.

"The risk of a student slipping and falling on ice while playing broomball is a foreseeable event," the complaint reads. "The School District had a duty to properly instruct and adequately supervise the students' participation in the broomball game. Farr and Carroll's failure to provide reasonable, necessary and available protective equipment was a breach of their duty of care owed to (the students)."

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The lawsuit goes on to claim the Hirvela's son suffered disabling and permanent injuries "including, but not limited to, the loss of hearing in his right ear," and required hospitalization and treatment for his injuries.

The lawsuit further claims the boy will suffer pain, mental anxiety and emotional distress that requires medical and/or psychological treatment into the future.

The cost of medical care, both in the past and going forward, will exceed $50,000, and the lawsuit asks for a judgment "which exceeds the sum of $50,000.00."

RPS spokeswoman Mamisoa Knutson told the Post Bulletin the school district "cannot comment on an ongoing investigation."

A case management conference involving the parties and their attorneys is scheduled for Oct. 12, 2022.

Brian Todd is the news editor at the Post Bulletin. When not at work, he spends time with his family, roots for the Houston Astros and watches his miniature dachshund sleep, which is why that dog is more bratwurst than hotdog. Readers can reach Brian at 507-285-7715 or btodd@postbulletin.com.
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