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Lawyer argues girl hurt in stage collapse put self at risk

October 27, 2016

A student injured in a stage collapse last year during a musical at an Indiana high school put herself at risk by participating in the show, the school said in court records countering a lawsuit from the student's parent.

The argument is part of a response filed Wednesday by an attorney for Westfield Washington Schools to a lawsuit from the mother of the Westfield High School student, the Indianapolis Star reported. Seventeen students were injured in the April 2015 incident.

Jennifer Hoffman argues school officials didn't properly supervise the employee who constructed the stage, leading to her daughter Destiny's injuries.

Hoffman's attorney, Tim Stoesz, questioned the district's response.

"Singing and dancing on a stage at a musical," Stoesz said. "Is that contributing to negligence?"

An attorney for the school district, Jenna Lower, said she couldn't comment on the case. The state issued $11,700 in fines after inspecting the stage and finding its cover was installed without proper safety procedures and wasn't strong enough to hold the students.

Indiana law says that if a judge or jury finds a person suing the government contributed to negligence then they can't recover damages.

The stage collapsed during the grand finale of an "American Pie" show. It sent dozens of students into the orchestra pit. None of the injuries were life-threatening. Westfield is about 20 miles north of Indianapolis.

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