Shane Thomas, a 17-year-old Palisades Charter High School soccer player, passed away during practice, possibly due to heatstroke. If an investigation confirms the cause of death as heat-related, then the school could be liable.
Shane Thomas, a locally famous 17-year-old soccer player at Palisades Charter High School, passed away possibly from heatstroke. He was found collapsed near his coach’s car after playing in 111-degree heat last Saturday in Chino Hills. Paramedics transported him to Chino Valley Medical Center, but he could not be revived.
With the extreme temperatures the day of Shane’s soccer practice, a heat advisory warning was issued across Southern California. As a standard procedure during heat advisory warnings, outdoor activities, especially strenuous ones, should be canceled. If Shane’s death was heat-related and inadequate safety measures were taken by his coach and school, such as providing hydration stations and frequent rests in the shade, then liability for his death could fall upon the school district.
Similar incidents in the past throughout California have ended in successful wrongful death claims against school districts, which could indicate how the pending case surrounding Shane Thomas’s death could progress. For example, BD&J, a law firm in Los Angeles, proved that Alameda Unified School District was 100% liable for the heat-related death of a 15-year-old Encinal High School football student in a lawsuit that concluded in 2016.
In that case, Giovani Pulido collapsed during football practice and died of cardiac arrest. Although the ambient outdoor temperature hovered around 77 degrees, bystander footage of the practice acted as key evidence that Giovani was showing symptoms of heat illness triggered by the intensity of the practice exercises. It was also discovered that not all the coaches present at the practice had completed the National Federation of State High School Associations training course for identifying and treating heat-related illnesses in student-athletes.
Although the defendants argued that Giovani passed away from a genetic heart disorder, the jury ruled entirely with the plaintiffs. The defendants were ordered to pay the Pulido family $8 million to provide for past and future pain and suffering. It is not clear at this time if Shane Thomas’s family intends to pursue damages against Palisades Charter High School or its parent school district, but, depending on the official autopsy’s outcome, there appears to be the opportunity to do so.
For more information about this ongoing story, inquiring parties should visit https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/08/18/shane-thomas-soccer-star-death-palisades/. To learn about BD&J, the law firm that successfully managed the Pulido wrongful death lawsuit against Alameda Unified School District, readers are encouraged to visit https://www.bdjinjurylawyers.com/.