Virginia: Brain Injury – a Lawyer’s Responses

placeholder image big

On September 2, 2010, the Gloucester-Mathews Gazette-Journal headlined “GHS administrator, 2 others found liable for student injuries; jury awards $5M”. Trial in the brain injury case of Gagnon v. Burns, No. CL08-572 in Circuit Court for Gloucester County, Virginia, is the subject.

The G-M G-J article recounts how Assistant Principal Burns admitted he “dropped the ball” to both the student who forewarned him and to the brain injury victim’s parents. But it omits the significant corroborating evidence in Gagnon that Defendant Burns also admitted to Deputy Carwell he “screwed up” and additionally admitted to Sergeant Shuster he “made a big mistake,” as both of those Resource Officers at Gloucester High School then on full-time assignment from the Gloucester Sheriff’s Office testified.

The G-M G-J article also omits that fellow GHS Assistant Principal Green testified further in Gagnon that the attacker, Defendant James S. Newsome, Jr., in his initial signed statement did not state the victim swore at him; and that Defendant Newsome only claimed profanity was used after Assistant Principal Green had given Newsome an immediate 10-day suspension, recommended him for long-term suspension too, and telephoned his mother about everything. Moreover, Rita Cargill-Brown, Director of Student Services for Gloucester County Public Schools, the GCPS Superintendant’s designee for all student discipline, testified consistently that at his long-term suspension hearing Defendant Newsome did not claim the brain injury victim used profanity.

Additionally, the G-M G-J article omits that the supposed printouts produced by Defendant Newsome’s mother the day after her son’s attack and suspension were hotly disputed by the brain injury victim in Gagnon. Substantial evidence questioned the genuiness of the communications, plus that the Plaintiff sent them.

Four witnesses testified it was impossible for the brain injury victim to have sent the second supposed document while they were watching him convalesce with his injuries and confusion under medication only hours after the attack; and Plaintiff’s computer forensics expert testified that the victim’s computer then had “Spyware” on it, which allowed unknown third-party access to his and all other accounts at all times. More fundamentally, Gagnon exposed that the two documents produced by Defendant Newsome’s mother did not appear to be regular on their face and, importantly, were missing the print date characteristically appearing on all documents actually printed from the internet (versus Word documents typed up by an individual).