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Girl trapped under elevator sues Oklahoma City Public Schools

One of the three teenage girls who became trapped under an elevator at the Classen School for Advanced Studies claims in a lawsuit against the Oklahoma City Public Schools that the November 2011 incident left her disfigured and in need of continuing medical treatment.
by Andrew Knittle Modified: April 29, 2013 at 10:15 pm •  Published: April 30, 2013

One of the three teenage girls who became trapped under an elevator at the Classen School for Advanced Studies claims the November 2011 incident left her disfigured and in need of continuing medical treatment.

Ambri Tygard and her father filed a lawsuit against Oklahoma City Public Schools in June, seeking an unspecified amount of money on a negligence claim.

She is the only one of the three girls to file a lawsuit in connection with the incident, a search of court records shows.

Oklahoma City attorney Thomas Steece, who is representing Tygard, wrote in the petition that his client “has suffered permanent, progressive and painful injuries” due to the elevator incident.

Tygard “has suffered and will suffer physical and emotional pain and suffering ... as a result of the subject negligence,” he wrote. She “has suffered disfigurement ... and will sustain loss of enjoyment of life as a result of injuries and damages sustained.”

Now that Tygard has filed a lawsuit, the stance of Oklahoma City Public Schools appears to have changed.

Shortly after the Nov. 15, 2011, incident, district Superintendent Karl Springer said the door to the older, lift-style elevator should've been locked. Three days later, Springer said the door wasn't closing properly and that it was due to be fixed when the girls walked into the elevator shaft after a friend told them there was something cool to see inside.

“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.”

Despite the apparent contradiction, Fugitt said Monday the district's stance on the incident is unchanged.

Continue reading this story on the...

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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