Craven County Schools has settled a lawsuit in the 2012 near drowning of a Havelock High School student for $2.325 million.
The incident happened Sept. 27, 2012, at Fort Macon State Park where Glenn Poole Jr. nearly drowned while on a authorized field trip. Two former Havelock High teachers, Robert Thomas and Meribeth Praml, who served as chaperones on the field trip, were also named in the lawsuit. They both resigned shortly after the incident.
According to the settlement released by the Board of Education, Thomas, Praml and the Craven County Board of Education have denied negligence in the case, but the defendants agreed to settle all claims in the matter.
According to the financial breakdown in the settlement, $200,821 will be disbursed to the Glenn Courtney Poole, Jr. Irrevocable Special Needs Trust and $627,928 will be disbursed to Kellum Law Firm Trust Account: $343,750 for attorneys’ fees, $3,321 for the reimbursement of advanced costs, $19,407 for outstanding medical expenses, $2,700 for guardian ad litem fees and $258,749 for the satisfaction of a lien asserted by Rawlings and Company.
In addition, $1.065 million will be used to fund the purchase of an annuity to provide the future periodic payments to the Special Needs Trust.
Future periodic payments outlined in the settlement include a $50,000 guaranteed lump sum payable on Aug. 1, 2021; $4,703 monthly for life for 20 years or 240 payments guaranteed with the monthly payments beginning Aug. 1, 2026, and the last guaranteed payment scheduled for July 1, 2046.
To fund the purchase of an annuity to provide future periodic payments to attorney Edwin M. Braswell, Jr., $431,250 will be made payable to Pacific Life and Annuity Services. Braswell will receive $75,000 annually for six years guaranteed beginning March 1, 2018 and ending on March 1, 2023.
The agreement states that the settlement resolves any and all claims that have arisen or that may arise on the part of the plaintiffs or on account of the injuries, medical treatment, permanent injury and pain and suffering sustained by Poole or the medical bills, loss of services or support or loss of earnings sustained by the Poole’s resulting from the incident.
In a statement released by the Craven County Board of Education Thursday night, the board said it hoped that the settlement provided a measure of comfort to Poole and his parents in that it represents some resolution.
“This tragic accident has been a catastrophic event in the lives of this family and our school family,” the statement from the board read. “It has forever changed how we handle these matters with our schools. As a Board, we pray for healing for Mr. Poole and his family.”
The Poole family could not be reached for comment, and representatives from the Kellum Law Firm did not return phones calls seeking comment.
Poole was among 46 students from four classes who went on the field trip Sept. 27, 2012, to the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores and then later to Fort Macon State Park.
While at the Fort Macon bathhouse beach, a number of students entered the water, where no lifeguards were on duty.
Poole apparently got caught in a rip current, according to a statement issued at the time by the school system, but the lawsuit filed by the plaintiffs said Poole had tried to help a classmate who had been struck by a wave, knocked into the water and was being pulled away by the current.
While students began to yell for help, Praml continued to read a book on the beach, assuming the students were yelling because they had seen porpoises in the water, according to the lawsuit.
Fellow students Abby Clark and Will Blythe, a kayaker, and Thomas helped rescue Poole, but he was not breathing as he was brought to shore. Thomas and Blythe began administering CPR until rescue personnel from the Atlantic Beach Fire Department arrived and continued treatment.
Poole was taken to Carteret General Hospital and then to Vidant Medical Center, where he was found to have suffered a hypoxic-ischemic brain injury due to the near drowning, according to the lawsuit.
After the incident, Craven County Schools issued a statement that permission slips for the field trip did not include information about any swimming activities but would not provide a copy to the media. Some of the students on the field trip said after the incident that they knew they would be going swimming in the ocean while on the field trip and that several had brought swim suits.
Poole spent months in the hospital and in rehabilitation. He sustained a brain injury, the loss of short-term memory and some muscular impairment. He recovered, and after catching up on his school work, graduated with the rest of his class on June 8, 2013.
Because of the sustained brain injury and loss of short-term memory, Poole was appointed a guardian ad litem to assist him in the prosecution of the case.
Contact Jennifer Cannon at 252-635-5671. Follow her on Twitter at JCannonNBSJ.