Boy struck in eye by piece of broken violin sues Newport-Mesa school district

A Newport Beach middle school student and his mother have sued the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, alleging the boy was seriously hurt when a violin he was playing broke and a piece of it struck him in an eye.

The lawsuit claims the 14-year-old was using the violin at Ensign Intermediate School on March 9 last year when a tuning screw tore loose from the instrument's neck and was propelled into his face by the string it had been holding in place.

The suit alleges the screw hit with enough force that the boy required surgery to replace the lens in his right eye.

The screw caused a traumatic cataract and corneal abrasion, among other injuries, according to the lawsuit.

The boy and his mother are seeking unspecified damages, including reimbursement for medical bills that the family's attorney says have reached $30,000.

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The lawyer, Brian Easton, alleged that the school district and a teacher were negligent in maintaining the violin, which the school owned.

Students in the orchestra class were instructed to never touch the tuning screws, the lawsuit claims, leaving any responsibility for them to district staff.

"My guess is they just never checked that screw that popped out," Easton said.

A spokeswoman for Newport-Mesa Unified declined to comment.

The boy likely will need further surgery, Easton said, and since the incident, he's had to wear glasses and has significantly worse eyesight.

The lawsuit also targets the violin's manufacturer, but Easton said the plaintiffs haven't been able to determine who made the instrument.

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