District, teachers cleared in wrongful death lawsuit

LAS VEGAS - The Clark County School District and three teachers were not responsible for the death of a teen-ager who collapsed and died on a soccer field, a jury decided.

Thirteen-year-old Kimberly Curtis collapsed Feb. 21, 1995, during a gym class at White Middle School in Henderson. She died from an undiagnosed heart defect as the three teachers and 150 of her classmates looked on.

George and Ruth Curtis waged a five-year legal battle, arguing the three physical education teachers present when Kimberly went into cardiac arrest were partially liable for her death because they failed to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and were inadequately trained in the life-saving emergency technique.

But seven jurors in District Judge Michael Douglas' courtroom disagreed Tuesday.

The Curtises, who had sought $2 million in damages, said they were not angry about the decision, only disappointed.

''We're not devastated,'' George Curtis said. ''And really, we've already won. We won big in 1997.''

He was referring to the family's campaign to have a law passed that requires Nevada school districts to draft plans for all physical education personnel to learn CPR - a statute now known as the Kimberly Law.

The couple's attorney, Rob Murdock, said he would appeal the jury's 7-1 decision.

Don Eldfrick, director of human resources for Clark County School District, said from 600 to 700 county physical education teachers, coaches and substitute teachers received two-year American Heart Association certification in 1998, the first year the Kimberly Law was in effect.

Though the Washoe County School District, which encompasses Reno and Sparks, is a fraction of the size of its Clark County counterpart, about 1,000 teachers of all types have been certified there.


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