Florida parents filed a lawsuit in Tennessee claiming that Sumner County schools were responsible for their daughter, a Portland High School cheerleader, being injured after allegedly being forced to perform unsafe maneuvers by the school’s cheerleading coach.
The parents, Andrew and Keyana Hobdy, filed the lawsuit which seeks $300,000 in damages from the school system. The school’s attorney, Leah Dennen said, “I don’t think this is a suit where the school system has any liability. I think it’s an unfortunate accident.”
The suit stems from the fall semester of 2013 when the Hobdys’ daughter was a freshman who made the cheerleading team after trying out. The cheerleading coach, Linda Starnes, required the cheerleaders to learn a move called a standing back handspring, but the Hobdys’ daughter was not comfortable performing the maneuver.
In December of that same year, Starnes began drilling the squad on the maneuver and forced Hobdys’ daughter to attempt it as well, despite her unwillingness to do so. After an unsuccessful attempt, the young woman landed on her head which caused scraping and bleeding. Even after suffering the laceration on her head, the cheerleading coach allegedly forced her to attempt the move again, resulting in her landing on her head a second time and ultimately suffering a concussion.
No first aid was administered and the young woman’s pleas to contact her parents after being injured were repeatedly denied. The incident was also not initially reported to the school’s administrators.
The parents then spoke with school officials about the incident, however they were reluctant to interfere with the coaches of the cheerleading squad. When the Hobdys’ daughter returned to the squad in mid-January of 2014, her first day back resulted in her breaking her right leg while performing a maneuver at a pep rally.
The suit further alleges that after sustaining these injuries the Hobdys’ daughter was placed on home instruction, her grades declined and she began suffering from depression, anxiety and severe headaches.
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