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Trial date in suit against LCUSD filed by injured student’s family moved to March

A trial date in the case of a La Cañada High School senior whose family is suing the district after he was injured from a fall during a school assembly was continued Monday to March 5 by attorneys representing both parties.

Meanwhile, multiple documents filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court in the past month show the plaintiffs and defendant La Cañada Unified School District gearing up for a jury trial that could include testimony from as many as 35 expert and non-expert witnesses.

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Originally scheduled for Jan. 22, the trial date was moved to accommodate the schedule of the school district's attorneys currently engaged in another case.

Plaintiff attorney Robert Glassman, of Los Angeles law firm Panish Shea & Boyle, said he was looking forward to getting started on the trial.

"Ethan is surrounded by a loving and supportive family, and we look forward to presenting their story and their case in court," Glassman said Monday.

Court records show La Cañada Unified attempted to compel a mental examination of Kalnins, in response to the plaintiffs' stated intention to designate a neuropsychology expert as a witness.

The Dec. 29 filing states a school psychologist indicated the now-18-year-old had no ongoing mental conditions related to his fall from the bleachers of the school's Hotchkin Family Gymnasium during a May 20, 2016 assembly. Glassman, who claims Kalnins suffered anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder after the fall and its resultant hip surgery and rehabilitation, said a judge denied the district's request.

On Jan. 5, attorneys representing Kalnins and guardian-appointed mom Theresa Beaton filed motions precluding the district from adding several non-expert witnesses to its list after a late-December deadline, and from making apologetic or remorseful comments during the trial.

"To our understanding, the district has never apologized to Ethan or his family for what happened, so it would be inappropriate for them to do it for the first time [in front of] a jury," Glassman said, clarifying the judge's response to those requests would likely be determined in the course of the trial.

LCUSD Supt. Wendy Sinnette said in a statement Tuesday the district was limited in its ability to comment due to student confidentiality rights.

"Please note, however, that the district is very interested in settling this matter with the family, but currently the demands are outside the scope of district's insurance parameters," Sinnette continued.

Glassman would not say whether any offers had been made by the district, but did confirm no settlement agreement has been reached between the two parties.

Twitter: @SaraCardine

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