Student Claims Injuries Sustained In Leadership Training 'Trust Fall' Ruined Him

trust fall injuryA former MBA student is suing Seattle University and a local corporate training firm because of a life-altering head injury that he says he incurred during mandatory leadership training, a component of the graduate program.

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The student, Shawn Bomgardner, says his injuries were so severe that he had to drop out of school and quit his job as an auditor for Costco, Courthouse News reports, citing a complaint filed in King County Court.

The incident took place in 2009 at a university baseball field during a "Leadership and Team Development" course designed by Teams and Leaders Inc., based in Seattle.

According to the complaint, "[D]efendant Seattle University's MBA 510 class was required to attend a leadership retreat at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Wash. Like the other students enrolled in this class, [Bomgardner] was expected to attend and participate in the retreat activities."

The activities included rope- and wall-climbing, cat-and-mouse tag games and "trust fall" exercises, in which blindfolded students fall backwards into the arms of their classmates.

It was during a trust fall that Bomgardner experienced his injury, according to the complaint.

To perform the trust fall, Bomgardner climbed to the top of a 4-foot-high bleacher stand, turned his body away from his fellow students and fell backward, as instructed. But Bomgardner's classmates were unable to catch him, and he struck his head on the ground.

An ambulance wasn't called, the suit says. Rather, Bomgardner, who was left "severely disoriented" from the accident, was "simply excused" from further activities to recover. Later that night, he drove himself to a hospital emergency room and was diagnosed with a closed-head injury.

In the months that followed, the complaint says, Bomgardner continued to suffer symptoms associated with his injuries and was unable to continue the course work required by the MBA program, causing him to withdraw before completion of his studies.

Further, the suit says, the accident resulted in the loss of his job at Costco "due to the persistence of the symptoms associated with his injuries."

Bomgardner is seeking an unspecified amount in damages from both Seattle University and Teams and Leaders for instructing him to participate in "an inherently dangerous activity."

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David Schepp

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David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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