Family reaches settlement after Bearspaw boy choked by school lanyard

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Family reaches settlement after Bearspaw student choked by school lanyard
WATCH ABOVE: Years after a Grade 3 student was seriously injured after becoming tangled in a lanyard, his family has reached a settlement agreement with a public Alberta school board. As Tracy Nagai reports, according to court documents, Nicholas Kitzul is now 15 years old and requires around-the-clock care – Aug 15, 2019

A Calgary-area family has reached a settlement with the Rocky View School Division more than seven years after their son suffered life-altering injuries when he was choked by a school lanyard.

In December 2012, Nicholas Kitzul was found unconscious in a Bearspaw School bathroom when the lanyard around his neck became tangled in the bathroom stall door.

He spent four months recovering in hospital before he was allowed to return home.

“He requires care on a 24-hour basis and needs two caretakers,” the Kitzul family’s lawyer, Tara Pipella, said on Thursday. “He needs wheelchairs and specialized equipment so he can ride a bike.

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The Kitzul family was seeking more than $17 million in damages, however, the exact amount of the settlement will not be made public due to a confidentiality clause.

The lawsuit named Nicholas’ Grade 3 teacher, the principal of Bearspaw School, Rocky View School Division, the Alberta Teachers’ Association and Morgex Insurance.

Among dozens of allegations that were made, the most serious was that the school failed to supply breakaway lanyards which release under tension.

On Thursday, Global News was among other media outlets arguing the settlement amount should be made public because the lawsuit involved a public school district. However, the judge disagreed.

“Our clients will now be able to move forward with their lives and secure the funding that they need,” Pipella said.

Angela Spanier with Rocky View Schools said because the district’s insurer and lawyers managed the case no one could comment on the settlement.

“We continue to uphold the province’s direction to all school boards to eliminate non-break away lanyards in our schools,” Spanier wrote in an email to Global News.

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–with files from Global News’ Phil Heidenreich

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