Carthage Missouri Traumatic Brain Injury Case Settled Against Sports Facility

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A teenage athlete’s family settled their suit against her coach, school, and the gym where she was injured during a basketball practice with a confidential settlement in 2006. Katie Patrick, 14, hit her head against an uncovered metal wall during her high school basketball practice resulting in a traumatic brain injury.

On Nov. 19, 2002, Patrick attended basketball practice in a church gym leased by her school for P.E. and extracurricular sports practices. The building had unpadded metal walls underneath the baskets, and during the practice Patrick hit her head against the wall. She was taken to the McCune-Brooks Hospital in Carthage, Missouri (Mo.) Emergency Room for X-rays and CT scans, which came back negative. However, Patrick suffered from headaches, dizziness, and nausea for months after the injury. After frequent trips to the emergency room Patrick went to the Mayo clinic, where she was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.

A personal injury suit was filed on behalf of Patrick against the First Baptist Church (the location of the gym), Sarcoxie R-II School District and Chad Harris (the team coach). Although maintenance wasn’t specified in the lease of the church gymnasium, witnesses for both sides said that both parties were equally responsible for upkeep. Witnesses also testified that there had been discussions from the onset of the agreement to install padding on the exposed metal poles of the baskets and on the metal polls behind the baskets. Testimony conflicted as to who was responsible for initiating and undertaking those measures.

Defendants also argued that Patrick’s injuries were not as severe as she claimed, that the treatment prescribed by and the PET scans interpreted by Patrick’s neuroradiologist was unreliable and inaccurate. An expert hired by the defense who examined the witness said that her doctors were overstating her injuries. Ultimately, however, a biomechanical engineer expert performed an inspection of the site and compared the hardness of the metal wall and the padded portions of the wall that were added after Patrick’s injury took place. He found that if the wall had been padded Patrick would likely not have struck the wall with enough force to suffer even a mild traumatic brain injury.

Patrick’s attorney, A.W. Smith was able to secure a settlement estimated at $6.9 million for Patrick’s expenses and pain and suffering.

The A.W. Smith Law Firm in Columbia handles personal injury cases all over the State of Missouri. If you have questions about how to choose a law firm that is equipped to handle your personal injury case, please contact us today at 573-443-7300 or visit are website at The A.W. Smith Law Firm has recovered millions in settlments and verdicts in serious injury and wrongful death cases.