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Negligence claims filed against Enterprise

ENTERPRISE (AP) — The family of a student who was killed in the tornado that hit Enterprise High School in March and a staffer who was injured in the storm have filed claims of negligence against the school board, city and administrators.

One claim was filed by Kris R. Bowdin, a school employee who says his injuries included ruptured discs, injuries to hips and shoulders and a pelvic fracture when a school hallway caved in. The other was filed by the family of Andrew Jackson, a student who was killed in the collapse.

Responding Monday to the claims, filed late last month, city schools Superintendent Jim Reese expressed the system's "continued sorrow" over the deaths of eight students killed by the tornado and said he hoped for a full recovery of anyone who was injured.

He said the school system's lawyers would formally respond to any claim. But he did say the deaths and injuries were "the result of an unfortunate act of nature."

The claims, which ask for $10 million in damages each, contend that Enterprise school officials and employees were negligent in not dismissing school earlier on March 1 when the storm struck.

The claims also cite further negligence caused by defective construction at the school that allowed the walls to collapse in a hallway where students and teachers were huddled.

Reese, in a statement, said the system's "administrators, teachers, and staff performed heroically both during the storm and in its aftermath and acted properly on March 1, 2007."

"For those reasons, we will vigorously defend the allegations made in the claims should a lawsuit result," he said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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