Student sues school after fracturing knee during high jump

Court hears jump 2½ft high and youth heard ‘crack’ when airborne – then pain on landing

Mitchell Dunne later had an operation, screws were inserted in the knee and he was in hospital for five days. File photograph: Getty Images

Mitchell Dunne later had an operation, screws were inserted in the knee and he was in hospital for five days. File photograph: Getty Images

 

A student who suffered a knee fracture when taking a high jump during Physical Education class has sued his school in the High Court.

Mitchell Dunne, who was a 16-year-old Transition year student at the time, told the court he ran at the high jump which was about 2½ft high and heard a “crack” when he was in the air.

“I was up in the air and all I heard was a crack. I landed in between the mats. I felt the pain,” he said. Mr Dunne, now aged 20, of Abbey View, Monasterevin, Co Kildare, had through his mother Regina Dunne, sued the Trustees and Board of Management of St Paul’s Secondary School, Monasterevin, as a result of the accident on May 2nd, 2014.

It is claimed there was failure to adequately train or supervise Mr Dunne concerning the manner and methods for safely performing a high jump. It is further claimed he was exposed to a risk of injury of which the school knew or ought to have known. The claims are denied and the school contends the PE teacher demonstrated how to do the jump before students took part. In evidence, Mr Dunne said the accident happened about 15 minutes into the PE session.

Questioned about a warm-up

He said that, when he landed after the jump, there was “a bone out ” and he was in pain. He said the principal examined around his knee and said he thought it was dislocated. “I was shaking because the pain had set in. It was agony,” he added.

The school rang his mother and he said he was helped into her car by his classmates and brought to hospital where he was found to have a fracture to the knee. He later had an operation, screws were inserted in the knee, he was in hospital for five days and in a cast for a month. “I was in agony for weeks and weeks after,” he said.

He said he did not go back to playing sport and felt he might injure himself again but had later played in a school match. Cross-examined by Paul Burns SC, for the school, Mr Dunne denied there was a warm-up before the jump. When counsel put to him the teacher had demonstrated the jump by stepping over it, Mr Dunne replied that the teacher just showed where to start the jump.

He agreed it was not compulsory to take part in the high jump. PE teacher Elaine Mahony said she organised the high jump. She said they did a warm-up including skipping and she showed the students how to do the jump. Mr Dunne was on his fourth high jump when the accident occurred, she said. The case before Mr Justice Anthony Barr continues.