ORANGE (CBSLA) — A $7.5 million settlement has been reached in the death of an El Modena High School special needs student who was injured in a golf cart crash last year, the attorneys representing the boy’s mother announced Friday.
The Orange Unified School District agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle the lawsuit filed on behalf of Micaela Sanchez Corona, the mother of 15-year-old Manny Perez, according to Panish Shea & Boyle LLP attorneys Robert Glassman and Nathan Werksman. Manny died from “significant chest and abdominal” injuries he sustained in a golf cart crash last September at El Modena High School.
The district also agreed to make changes to its policies and procedures, including a district-wide evaluation of all campus golf carts by a national golf cart expert, and to dispose of carts that are obsolete, the attorneys said, and to place a memorial bench honoring Manny in the high school campus garden.
“We are pleased that Orange Unified School District has agreed to resolve this case and is committed to creating a safer environment for its students and staff,” Glassman said in a statement. “It is our sincere hope that the District’s changes to its golf cart procedures will ensure no other student or family suffers through such a horrific tragedy again.”
Manny Perez, who was described as behaving and processing information as a third grader, died of injuries he sustained in an electric golf cart crash after his instructional aides left him alone, according to Glassman and Werksman. Manny had inadvertently stomped his left foot down on the accelerator during a tantrum, which made the golf cart accelerate forward about 37 feet and into a horizontal metal railing.
Leaving Manny alone had been a violation of his Individualized Educational Program, or IEP, and the cart had been left with the ignition turned to the “on” position and the “FWD” gear activated, the attorneys said.
Immediately after the fatal golf cart crash, disabled rights activists demanded justice for the teen and El Modena students staged a walkout over the district’s response to the incident.
The district has not yet released a statement about the settlement.