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Falls schools settle with girl, deny bullying led to playground injury

A 9-year-old Niagara Falls girl, who broke her wrist 2 1/2 years ago on a school playground, will have $14,300 plus interest waiting for her when she turns 18.

The girl's mother last week accepted a $22,500 settlement offer from the Niagara Falls School District for a claim she filed over her daughter's injury.

The $14,300 is what remains after legal fees and medical costs were deducted.

The mother's attorney, Paul K. Barr, filed paperwork in State Supreme Court Tuesday, asking a judge to ratify the settlement.

That paperwork asserted the girl, who was 7 years old at the time, was pushed off a set of monkey bars by a fellow pupil who previously had been accused of bullying her.

"I unequivocally deny there was any bullying," Niagara Falls School Superintendent Mark R. Laurrie said Wednesday.

Laurrie said he read the file and spoke to the principal, assistant principal and teacher who were present on the day of the incident.

"We cannot find any record of any type of bullying," Laurrie said.

"I don't have any hard evidence that there was," Barr said. "All I have is the story from the mother and the girl."

The 18th Street girl was 7 on June 2, 2016, when she fell from a set of monkey bars on the playground at Harry F. Abate Elementary School on Lockport Street in the Falls.

She landed on a concrete surface "which was covered with an insufficient rubber mat," Barr wrote in his submission to the court.

The girl broke two bones in her right wrist, according to X-rays taken at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. She later was taken to Women and Children's Hospital in Buffalo.

The girl's arm was in a cast up to her elbow for six or seven weeks, the court papers said. She still has a bump on her wrist which sometimes hurts in the morning or at night, sometimes causing her to take Tylenol.

"We acknowledge that it happened on our property. We acknowledge that the girl broke her arm, and our insurance company settled it on that basis," Laurrie said.

He also said the monkey bars have since been removed from the Abate playground.

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