PITTSFIELD -- The Catholic Youth Center has settled a lawsuit filed by the family of a young cheerleader who was injured by a glass panel that broke in a swinging door at its Melville Street building.
The $20,000 settlement was formally concluded before Judge Daniel A. Ford in Berkshire Superior Court on Tuesday, with the teen, Nicole Kingston, her mother, Joanne Futrell, of Pittsfield, and attorneys for the family and the youth organization present.
The agreement comes less than a week after the CYC decided to close its aging 26 Melville St. building for youth programming, citing the deteriorating condition of the 100-plus-year-old structure.
However, the accident on Feb. 3, 2011, "did not have a bearing" on the closure decision, said CYC board Chairwoman Gail Molari.
It did not involve any structural defects in the building, she said
"This was just something that happened; it was unfortunate, an accident," Molari said.
Attorney Carole Sakowski Lynch, of Morrison Mahoney of Springfield, who represented the CYC, said after the hearing that the settlement did not include any admission of negligence on the part of the organization.
"It was an unfortunate accident," Lynch said.
The settlement was reached through mediation several months ago, Lynch said, but a final hearing before a judge normally is required when a minor is involved, and a parent is usually present.
The building is owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, which recently received an assessment from an architectural consultant. That negative report led to the decision to close the building and move CYC youth programming to other sites, Molari has said.
According to suit allegations, the girl had participated in cheerleading practice in the CYC building and was descending a stairway when she came into contact with a swinging door. A pane of glass broke, and the girl sustained injuries to her face and body, the suit alleged.
Attorney Matthew Mozian, of Campoli & Monteleone of Pittsfield, said Wednesday that his clients were satisfied with the settlement. He added that, while not wanting to specifically talk about this case, his firm has "a history of representing people, especially young people, injured by non-safety glass" installed in an area where it creates a hazard.
Details of the settlement include a $20,000 payment, which is the maximum for that type of suit, according to Lynch, when a nonprofit charitable organization is sued.
Of that amount, attorney fees of $6,666, plus expenses of $2,354, are specified for the family's attorneys, while $3,000 is to be set aside for future medical bills. Another $7,979 will go into a fund that will be paid in annual amounts to Nicole Kingston for eight years, beginning on her 18th birthday in 2019.
Great American Insurance was the insurer for the CYC.
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