British Columbia

Teen settles for $35K after being partially blinded in Vancouver school yard

Isaac Deo was seven years old when a branch hit him in the eye at Nootka Elementary School.

Isaac Deo was 7 years old when a branch hit him in the eye at Nootka Elementary

Nootka Elementary School has students from kindergarten to Grade 7. A seven-year-old boy in Grade 2 was partially blinded when he was hit in the eye with a branch on school grounds in April 2010. (Google Streetview)

A Vancouver teen who was partially blinded while playing in school grounds when he was seven years old has settled his lawsuit against the Vancouver School District for $35,000.

Isaac Deo was in Grade 2 at Nootka Elementary School when a tree branch hit him in the eye, permanently damaging his eyesight. He'd been trying to help a group of friends collect leaves for a game at lunch time.

Deo's father later sued the school district for negligence. The B.C. Court of Appeal approved his settlement late last month.

Three classmates were collecting leaves from a maple tree, like the one pictured, when they called Deo over to reach a higher branch. (Shutterstock)

Collecting leaves for a game

Deo was hurt on April 21, 2010. Court documents said he'd been playing in the sandpit on school grounds when three classmates called him over to a big maple tree. 

The other students, all girls between six and eight years old, were collecting leaves for a game. They called Deo, who they said was the tallest in the class, to help them reach a higher branch.

Deo pulled the branch down and the girls plucked the leaves — but when the branch was let go, it whipped up and went into Deo's eye.

He was left "nearly blind" in the eye, according to court documents.

Deo's father sued the Vancouver School Board for three claims of negligence on his son's behalf: failure to implement a proper supervision plan for school grounds, failure to supervise on the day Deo was hurt and failure to phone for an ambulance.

The family won on the third claim, concerning the ambulance. The other two were dismissed.

Isaac Deo's father sued the Vancouver School Board for three claims of negligence on his son's behalf. (Nicolas Amaya/CBC)

'Delay in timely treatment'

A B.C. Supreme Court judge found the school assistant, who was the designated first aid attendant at the school, had failed to meet the standard of care "expected of a careful and prudent parent … certified to provide first aid in a school setting."

Justice Paul Riley found that negligence "led to a delay in timely treatment for Isaac's injury." Whether that contributed to or exacerbated the resulting damage to his eyesight would have been settled at trial.

Deo, now 16, and his father filed an appeal on the losses, but later opted to settle after their lawyer found they had a low chance at winning the appeal.

Court documents said the family would have had to sell their East Vancouver home to cover court costs if they had lost the appeal.