2014-02-17 / Front Page

School district faces lawsuit over alleged bleach incident

By TIM GULLA
Ledger Staff Writer

A recent incident in which a Gaffney Middle School student allegedly spiked a sports drink cooler with bleach during a middle school basketball game has resulted in a lawsuit against the Cherokee County School District.

Cleveland Smith, on behalf of a Granard Middle School basketball player who allegedly became sick and suffered blisters in his mouth as a result of consuming the sports drink, claims in a lawsuit filed Friday that the “persons” who spiked the sports drink cooler with bleach “acted on behalf of the Gaffney Middle School and had the apparent and/or actual authority to do so and that such conduct was ratified either explicitly or implicitly by officials of the Gaffney Middle School staff and/or administration.”

The alleged bleach-spiking incident occurred Jan. 17 during a basketball game between Gaffney Middle School and Granard Middle School. Gaffney Middle School was the home team for the event and was responsible for providing refreshments, the suit alleges.

Smith, who is represented by Attorney Fletcher Smith of Greenville, alleges the district was negligent in failing to properly monitor, supervise and protect the preparation of the sports drink, in allowing the sports drink to be spiked with a poison, in allowing the spiked drink to be served in violation of South Carolina law, and in violating the provisions of the Childrens’ Code in failing to act in the best interests of minor children involved in intermural sports.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages for the Granard Middle School student’s personal injuries and emotional distress.

An e-mail message seeking comment was sent to Cherokee County School District Superintendent Dr. Quincie Moore late Friday afternoon but was not immediately returned.

According to a previously published story in The Gaffney Ledger, Moore said Gaffney Middle

School officials conducted an investigation and confirmed a student put a “trace amount of Clorox” bleach in a 7-gallon sports drink container.

Information provided by a witness and the parent of a player led school officials to a student who admitted what he had done, according to the previously published report. The matter was then referred to Gaffney police, who wrote in a report that the student claimed “he didn’t mean any harm,” and that he only put a “drop” of bleach in the sports drink cooler.

Moore previously told The Ledger that school officials immediately called health officials and were told the amount of bleach involved in the incident posed no health risks, though the district planned to cover the costs of being checked by a physician for any student who drank the sports drink.

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