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Injured cheerleader's parents settle Uniontown lawsuit

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The parents of a Fayette County cheerleader who was crushed under gymnasium bleachers have settled a civil lawsuit for $235,000 while a second lawsuit involving another cheerleader remains unresolved.

Taylor Wrona, 17, suffered a broken nose, broken teeth, broken ankles, facial scratches and permanent scarring when bleachers in the gymnasium at Uniontown High School collapsed onto her on Jan. 5, 2008, according to the civil lawsuit filed by her parents, David and Joy Wrona of Uniontown.

Wrona was 14 at the time. She and other members of a freshman cheerleading squad were practicing in the gym when their coaches had them push the bleachers into their storage position to create a practice area, according to the lawsuit. As the group pushed the bleachers, they collapsed, pinning Wrona and at least one other cheerleader, Shaneque Terry Walker, under them.

Walker, who was 16 at the time of the accident, suffered a fractured leg, broken ankle, nerve damage and scarring, according to a separate lawsuit filed by her mother, Terri Walker of Uniontown.

On June 30, Fayette County Judge John F. Wagner Jr. approved a $235,000 settlement agreement between the Wronas and the school district.

Under the agreement, $137,989 is to be placed into a federally insured account in Taylor Wrona's name until she turns 18 or by further order of the court.

The law firm that represented the Wronas, Chiurazzi and Mengine of Pittsburgh, is to receive $78,333 in fees.

Of the remaining money, $9,301 will go toward a medical lien, $7,510 toward a physical therapy bill, and $1,867 for various costs incurred by the law firm, according to terms of the settlement.

Walker's lawsuit remains unresolved, according to court records.

In both lawsuits, the cheerleaders' parents contended the district should have known the bleachers posed a hazard.

In addition to Wrona and Walker, a third cheerleader and a school custodian were hurt when the bleachers collapsed, according to information the district released at the time.

The school district's attorney, Roger W. Foley Jr. of Maiello, Brungo & Maiello of Pittsburgh, declined comment, citing a confidentiality agreement. He would say only that the district's insurance carrier, New Cumberland-based School Claims Service, would pay the settlement. The attorney for the Wronas, Anthony C. Mengine, said he could not comment because of the confidentiality agreement.

The settlement was the result of a two-day mediation session that the two sides entered into after a judge found the district liable, according to court records. The records do not indicate whether a third party was used for the mediation.

Dr. Charles Machesky, school superintendent, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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