An Orange County jury awarded $10 million to the family of disabled 3-year-old Kevin Cisler on Friday, who suffocated in his wheelchair on a school bus and who sued the Capistrano Unified School District, alleging district employees failed to make sure he was properly secured.
Attorneys for Melissa and Daniel Cisler told the Orange County Register
the $10 million award "is believed to be a record in Orange County for the
wrongful death of a child."
Kevin Cisler, who was found unresponsive on a bus March 25, 2011 and
later died, was diagnosed as a baby with Angelman Syndrome, a "neurogenetic disorder characterized by developmental delays, lack of speech, seizures and walking and balance disorders," according to his parents' attorneys.
"He couldn't walk or talk and couldn't operate his body like a normal
child," Kevin Boyle of Panish Shea & Boyle said.
School district officials did not immediately respond to The Register's request for response following Friday's verdict.
Kevin was in a special-education preschool, part of a program that
provided transportation to and from preschool.
Attorneys for the Cislers said district employees "failed to properly
strap Kevin into his wheelchair or ensure that his chest harness was in place
and that the lap belt and pummel required to keep him in his seat were
Kevin's wheelchair was placed behind the bus driver's seat, where the
boy couldn't be seen in the vehicle's mirrors, lawyers for the family said.
During a nearly hour-long bus ride, Kevin slid down in the wheelchair
until his chest harness was pressed around his neck, suffocating him, according
Jurors deliberated two days before reaching their verdict.
"It was a horrible tragedy, but especially in this season, it is
heartwarming to see that the jury system works and brought some closure to this family," Boyle told The Register.
--City News Service