Student, Parent Intend To Sue Hampton Bays School District Over Locker Room Incident

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The family of a Hampton Bays High School student who suffered a broken nose and concussion during a locker room incident at the school in October plan to sue the school, the district and Southampton Town for $3 million in damages.

Peyton River Hand, a junior and member of the high school’s varsity football team, and his father, Jason Hand, filed a notice of claim on January 24 that accuses the district of being negligent in supervising members of the team following a practice on October 30, the day of the incident.

The notice alleges that Peyton was hit in the face with a metal folding chair at about 5 p.m. that evening while the lights in the locker room were intentionally shut off and no adults were present. In addition to the broken nose and concussion, Peyton underwent surgery to repair a displaced nasal septum, according to the claim.

Following the incident, several parents, including Mr. Hand, said it was common for the team to mischievously shut the lights off and throw things about the locker room following practices.

In a November interview, Mr. Hand said similar incidents had occurred “dozens” of times before his son was injured, noting that it was common practice for players to shut off the lights and randomly throw things around the locker room for fun. “Some kid could have been killed,” he said at the time, when he had asked that both his and his son’s identity be withheld.

The notice of claim—an official announcement of a party’s intention to file a civil lawsuit—lists both Mr. Hand and his son as the complainants.

According to a copy of the notice, which is on file with the Southampton Town clerk’s office, the Hands also are accusing the school of being negligent in its ownership, operation, management, maintenance and control of the locker room and in its hiring and training of coaches, as well as failing to properly encourage students to come forward to report the incidents while they were going on.

Mr. Hand declined to comment on the lawsuit when reached on Friday afternoon, as he wanted to consult his lawyers at the Levidow, Levidow and Oberman, P.C. law firm in Manhattan.

Thomas Corvino, the lawyer handling the case, said Tuesday that he plans on filing a lawsuit in Suffolk County Supreme Court within the next 60 days.

Mr. Corvino also said Mr. Hand and his son had a statutory hearing with attorneys representing the school district to answer questions about the notice of claim. The district’s attorneys, he added, have asked to examine Peyton’s medical files, which Mr. Corvino said he would share.

Peyton will have to undergo another surgery to further repair his deviated nasal septum and he still is suffering from headaches, as well as pain in his neck and shoulders, according to Mr. Corvino. Because his client is still receiving medical treatment, Mr. Corvino said the $3 million being sought in damages could go up.

“At this point in the process, you cannot know what the full value of the claim will be because the medical condition has not stabilized,” he said. “We don’t know the extent of the injuries. We don’t know the residual effects of the injuries.”

Hampton Bays Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen this week recognized that the school and district were named in the complaint, but did not elaborate on what the district has done in response to the allegations.

“The district has received a notice of claim related to an alleged incident in 2013 in the boys locker room; however, this notice is not, as of this writing, an active lawsuit,” Mr. Clemensen wrote in an email.

Although the town is named in the notice, the Hands do not accuse the town of any wrongdoing, negligence or malfeasance. Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato said the town’s insurance provider, New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal, responded on the town’s behalf, denying any wrongdoing.

“I really don’t see any connection to any incident at Hampton Bays High School and the Town of Southampton,” Ms. Scarlato said.

Mr. Corvino said he does not expect to include the town in the forthcoming lawsuit, adding that it was included as a respondent as a “protective” measure while the investigation was in its early stages.

In response to the incident, school administrators canceled the football team’s final game of the year on Friday, November 1, which was supposed to be played at Greenport High School. A win would have secured the Baymen a spot in the playoffs and many parents, including Mr. Hand, vocally opposed the administration’s decision to cancel the contest.

Mr. Corvino said it took nearly three months for Mr. Hand, a longtime client of Levidow, Levidow and Oberman, to file the claim because he was waiting for the incident to be more thoroughly investigated.

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