Two students who were injured at Algonquin Lakes Elementary School when an inflatable slide tipped over at a May 2013 year-end celebration for fifth-graders have filed lawsuits seeking unspecified damages.
According to the lawsuits, the 18-foot-tall side was not properly secured and District 300 and Ed's Rental and Sales, Inc., were negligent and should be held liable.
Jeffrey Martin, attorney for both Algonquin girls who are now in sixth grade, said the lawsuit was a last resort for both families after they were met with resistance from the district, its insurers and the rental company.
"The parents have tried diligently to try and solve this amicably," Martin said. "We had no alternative. (The parents) are not happy about bringing this lawsuit."
Algonquin Lakes planned an outdoor year-end celebration for fifth-grade students on May 23, 2013, but it was moved inside the school gymnasium because of bad weather.
At the time, school officials said six students went to area hospitals and 11 were treated and released to their parents after being injured on a bounce house.
"There was absolutely nothing serious that occurred," District 300 Associate Superintendent Sarah Kedroski said at the time.
The suit argues the slide was not secured and stabilized.
Martin said one girl suffered injuries to her head, neck and left side of her body. She was hospitalized overnight, diagnosed with a concussion and to this day has problems concentrating on school work, reading and playing piano.
The other girl had a fracture to her left wrist, and two fractures and a torn ligament in her left ankle were later diagnosed. Doctors have said the fall splintered bone marrow in her ankle and she could have the early onset of post-traumatic arthritis, Martin said.
"We had hoped the injuries to both girls would be temporary but unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case," Martin said. "The school needs to protect its students if it's going to have events like this."
Peter Thennes, manager at the Ed's branch office in Algonquin, said the slide and inflatable bounce house were supposed to be set up by Ed's employees outside the school.
But the event was moved inside, and school officials did all the set up that day, Thennes said. When employees returned at the end of the day, the two items were rolled up and ready to be taken away, he added. This is a common practice as about 70 percent of inflatables are set up by customers themselves, Thennes said.
"How it went down inside the gym and how it was set up is probably something the school district can answer," Thennes said.
Allison Strupeck, District 300 spokeswoman, said the district does not comment on ongoing litigation.
The two cases are next due in Kane County court July 10.