A mother of a Nipomo High School student claims that her son was injured due to a lack of safety protocol during a track and field competition.
The complaint, filed on Aug. 31 against the Lucia Mar School District, alleges that Jennifer Philson's son James Philson suffered a head injury when school employees did not recognize that pole-vaulting equipment did not meet safety standards.
According to the complaint, James was a student at Nipomo High School and a member of the school's track and field team who participated in a track and field pole-vaulting competition at Santa Maria High School on March 14, 2018.
The complaint states that on James' first attempt at ascending 9 feet, he landed on the right edge of the landing pad in the pole-vaulting pit. James then bounced off the pad because of the momentum of the vault, according to the complaint, and struck his head on a 3-foot slab of cement protruding from the side of the vault pit.
According to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Championships 2017-18 Boys and Girls Track and Field Preview—a document used by track and field coaches and officials to establish mandatory safety standards—a minimum of 2 inches of dense foam padding should be used to pad any hard and unyielding surface.
The complaint alleges that James severely injured his head because the cement bordering the pit lacked protective padding.
According to an incident report completed by Nathan Shields, the track and field event judge, neither Shields nor the meet-judge who checked in with him prior to the competition noticed the cement.
"As the vault event judge, with a decade of experience, I should have known better than to allow the competition to continue with cement bordering around the side of the pit," the incident report stated. "Now, while I should have been more aware of the environment before the incident happened, Santa Maria High School has a facility that requires that an event-judge must keep that facility from being hazardous."
As of Sept. 13, Lucia Mar has not filed a response to the compliant in court.