Jury trial date set for lawsuit against city | CraigDailyPress.com

Jury trial date set for lawsuit against city

Paul Shockley

Judge Joel Thompson this morning set a three-day jury trial for May to hear a lawsuit brought against the city of Craig in the near drowning of a five-year-old boy at the city’s pool last year.

Thompson, however, did not rule on a motion filed by city attorneys calling for summary judgement, as Craig seeks to dismiss the case.

Attorneys for Benjamin Crippen and Leanne Crippen, who sued the city in a case filed on Sept. 3, have yet to file a response to the summary judgement motion, according to court records.

Barring resolution of the case in the next six months, the trial is scheduled for May 27 in District Court.

The lawsuit, in which damages sought against the city are not specified, stems from a birthday party held at the pool July 4, 2001, attended by Benjamin “Benji” Crippen II.

Crippen was found floating face down in the lap pool by another pool patron, and the boy was treated at pool side by the facility’s manager, as well as two emergency medical technicians who happened to be there that day.

The boy had jumped into the pool while nobody was watching, and city attorneys have claimed he did not know how to swim.

Crippen was flown to Denver where he was treated and released the next day.

The complaint filed by the family alleges the boy suffered injury to his respiratory system, “was inconvenienced, suffered emotional distress,” while incurring hospitalization costs of $21,181.

Plaintiffs have alleged Craig’s swimming pool employees “negligently, recklessly, or willfully and wantonly guarded,” Crippen’s life that day.

But the city, which is represented in the lawsuit by Denver attorney Andrew Engeman, has claimed Crippen’s parents were negligent in the incident.

“The injuries and damages sustained by the plaintiffs, if any, were caused by the plaintiffs’ unreasonable assumption of a known risk,” Engeman’s filed response states.

The city also claims it is shielded by Colorado’s Governmental Immunity Act, arguing the complaint doesn’t specifically outline or provide a factual basis for pool employees’ alleged negligence.

In the summary judgement motion before Thompson, the city has asked that Crippen’s parents and attorneys pay the city’s legal fees in the case.

According to City Attorney Sherman Romney, a recent doctor’s report for Crippen indicates the boy had no injuries from the incident.

This past summer, the boy took swimming lessons offered by the city at the same pool, according to Romney’s office.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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