Girl who Contracted Serious Disease on School Trip to China awarded $41.75 Million

Bridgeport, CT – A federal jury awarded a New York girl $41.75 million on Thursday 28 March who contracted a life-altering disease while on a school trip to China.

Student of ninth grade at The Hotchkiss School, a private boarding school in Lakeville, Conn., Cara Munn, then 15-year-old, joined a school-supervised trip to China during the summer of 2007. She belongs to New York.

According to her lawsuit, the school failed to notify the girl or her family that it would be taking the students anywhere other than urban city centers before or during the trip. It was seriously ignored by the officials that there was a risk of tick-borne diseases where the students would be travelling. There were no precautionary measures taken by the school against disease-transmitting ticks.

No guiding sessions took place in school before the trip to advice students to wear insect repellent. Moreover, the students were allowed to walk through a densely wooded area called Mt. Panshan that was known to be a risk area for Tick-Borne Encephalitis, Lyme Disease and many other tick and insect-transmitted illnesses without any precautionary measures.

After this careless school trip, Cara contracted Tick-Borne Encephalitis. She suffered brain damage and is now unable to speak for the rest of her life. Munn, now 20 years old, filed a lawsuit against The Hotchkiss School.

“Hotchkiss failed to take basis safety precautions to protect the minor children in its care. The school should have been on notice that the Mt. Panshan area of China was an insect disease endemic area; but it failed to notify the students or their families that they would be going to Mt. Panshan, and it failed to ensure that anyone use repellent,” said attorney Antonio Ponvert III of Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder in Bridgeport, CT.

He is representing the girl and tried the case.

Before returning their verdict, the jury of two men and six women deliberated for about eight hours. The case lasted for eight days.

“I hope that this case will help alert all schools who sponsor overseas trips for minors that they need to check the CDC for disease risks in the areas where they will be travelling, and that they must advise children in their care to use repellant and wear proper clothing when necessary,” Ponvert said. “Cara’s injuries were easily preventable.”

The school said that it would appeal.

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