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Jury decides that Starpoint school district was not liable for first-grader’s playground injury

LOCKPORT – The Starpoint Central School District was not liable for a first-grade student suffering a broken arm in a playground accident five years ago.

That was the verdict Thursday from a six-member State Supreme Court jury on the fourth day of a trial before Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr.

Alisha D. Jauch and Thomas E. Jauch, of the Town of Lockport, sued the school on behalf of their daughter, Veda M. Jauch, who was 7 years old when she fell 7 feet to the ground through a hole in the platform of a piece of playground equipment at the StarPark playground at Fricano Primary School in Pendleton on June 10, 2011.

The hole was a designed part of the playground set. The girl, in first grade at the time, was running and playing tag with two other girls when she fell through and suffered a compound fracture of her left arm.

The lawsuit accused the district of negligence and inadequate supervision of the children. The accident was recorded on surveillance video.

The family’s attorney, David D. White, of the Clarence law firm Sheffer Murphy & White, argued that the three teachers who were at the playground with 60 first-graders did not adequately supervise the children; the teachers were sitting on a bench that was out of range of the video camera. But the jury took about a half-hour to find no liability for the school.

Warning signs were posted on the playground and children were told not to run, teachers testified during the trial and in pretrial depositions.

Louis B. Dingeldey Jr., of the West Seneca law firm Baxter Smith & Shapiro, represented Starpoint.

Starpoint administrators were not available for comment on the case Friday.