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Girl trapped under elevator settles with Oklahoma City school district for $50K

A girl who sued Oklahoma City Public Schools after she became trapped under an elevator in November 2011 at the Classen School of Advanced Studies has agreed to a $50,000 settlement with the state's largest school district, court records show.
by Andrew Knittle Modified: July 6, 2013 at 3:00 pm •  Published: July 5, 2013

The settlement also requires $18,558 in legal fees be paid by Tygard and her father, who also is listed as a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed against the school district.

The remaining $7,884 will be held in an “interest-bearing trust for the benefit of Ambriana Tygard ... until she reaches the age of 18,” court records show.

The incident

According to reports at the time of the incident, Tygard and two friends walked into the elevator shaft after a friend told them there was something “cool” to see inside.

Once Tygard and the two others were inside, a friend who was standing outside of the shaft shut the door, which automatically locked it. The elevator soon began to descend, nearly crushing the girls.

Three days after the incident, district Superintendent Karl Springer said the door to the older, lift-style elevator wasn't closing properly and that it was due to be fixed when the girls ventured into the shaft that day.

“If they're guilty of anything, they may be guilty of curiosity,” Springer said. “It's not their fault.”

Yet, in a response to Tygard's lawsuit, the school district's attorney, Andy Fugitt, denied nearly all of the allegations made by the girl's lawyers.

“Plaintiff's own negligence was the sole cause of her injuries,” Fugitt wrote. “Plaintiff was comparatively negligent, and her comparative negligence is in sufficient percentage to reduce or bar any recovery herein.”

Fugitt said the district's legal counsel investigated the elevator incident, but no final report was ever prepared.

by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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