Lawsuit: Student who suffered head injury at school was bullying victim

The family of a Wake County student who suffered a “major head injury” after a fall at school says he was a victim of bullying who was pushed by a classmate.

In 2015, school officials said Riley Shields, 12, a seventh-grade student at East Cary Middle School, was injured in a “terrible accident” when another student collided with him and caused his head to hit a table. But the boy’s family says in a lawsuit filed in Wake County Superior Court that the injury occurred following rough housing and “several instances” of bullying that left Riley unsafe.

“As a result of said fall, Plaintiff Riley Shields has suffered and continues to suffer great and excruciating pain of body, mind and spirit, which are the immediate and necessary consequences of Defendants’ negligence,” the family says in the lawsuit filed in March.

The lawsuit names as defendants the Wake County school system; Kerry Chisnall, who was East Cary’s principal then; and Marilyn Ann Gies, the teacher whose classroom was where the fall occurred.

School officials did not respond to a request for comment Monday on the lawsuit.

During the 2014-15 school year, the lawsuit says, Riley “suffered from harassment and/or bullying from other students while at East Cary.”

On April 27, 2015, the lawsuit says, several students in Gies’ classroom were “rough housing and were engaged in horseplay” when Riley got permission to get his pencil sharpened. While walking to the pencil sharpener, the complaint says, Riley felt two hands push him on the back, causing him to fall.

After the incident, Chisnall sent a message to parents saying Riley “sustained a major head injury when another student was pushed, and then inadvertently collided into Riley.” Chisnall told parents it was a “horrible and unexpected accident.”

The lawsuit says Riley “received serious and painful bodily injuries” that “may be permanent.”

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui