Sick on School Trip: $41M Lawsuit Won by Former Student for Disease and Brain Damage

By Brittney R. Villalva, Christian Post Reporter
March 28, 2013|11:46 am

A 20 year-old woman has won a $40 million lawsuit against a prestigious Connecticut boarding school after a school trip to China resulted in a serious illness.

Cara Munn was awarded a $41.7 million lawsuit on Wednesday in a lawsuit against the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, which accepts kids in grades 9-12. During a 9th grade trip abroad in China, Munn contracted a tick-borne disease called encephalitis.

During the school trip the class group walked through a densely wooded area known to be a high-risk place for insects carrying the tick-borne disease. Munn suffered from multiple bites but failed to receive care.

"Hotchkiss failed to take basic safety precautions to protect the minor children in its care," Munn's attorney Antonio Ponvert III said in a statement. "I hope that this case will help alert all schools who sponsor overseas trips for minors that they need to check the CDC for disease risks in the areas where they will be travelling, and that they must advise children in their care to use repellant and wear proper clothing when necessary. Cara's injuries were easily preventable."

The disease causes a swelling of the brain. Munn currently still suffers from brain damage and is unable to speak as a result, according to the Associated Press.

The school has announced plans to appeal the jury's decision. It has argued that it the encephalitis is so rare it would have been "impossible" to take precautionary measures against it.

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"We care deeply about all our students," the school said in a statement to the Associated Press. "We make every effort to protect them, whether they are here or participating in a school-sponsored activity off-campus. We put great care and thought into planning and administering off-campus programs, and we extend the same care to students on these trips as to students on campus."

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