ATLANTA (WSB/CNN) – A family has filed a lawsuit against their 16-year-old daughter’s school district after they say it took far too long for school bus staff members to help the girl when her wheelchair fell over.
Surveillance video shows 16-year-old Jannay Owens, who has cerebral palsy, sitting in her wheelchair on the school bus last September.
When the bus makes a left turn, both the girl and her wheelchair tip over. Three minutes pass before any of the staff members on the bus help her.
“There is absolutely no reason the wheelchair should have tipped over, but when it did, somebody did not come to help her,” said Minkah Merritt, the Owens family’s attorney.
Jannay’s family alleges negligence on the part of the bus driver and a bus monitor in the back of the bus.
“She’s looking down at something. We’re presuming that it’s a cell phone,” Merritt said.
Merritt says staff did not properly secure the teenager before they took her home from Creekside High School in Fairburn, GA.
Jannay’s mother, April Moore, says the 16-year-old suffered cuts and scars to her face as a result of the incident.
“Seeing my daughter laying there on the floor, with no one coming to her rescue, I was very disgusted when I saw the tape,” Moore said.
The lawsuit against the Fulton County School District asks for $14 million in injury and punitive damages. The family also wants a third-party review of safety protocol. Moore says she now personally checks Jannay’s restraints on the school bus every morning.
Merritt says he hopes the lawsuit will prevent this from happening again.
“I think every parent at the Fulton County School District should be concerned, and hopefully, this will force them to change their policies,” he said.
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