Personal Injury Settlement Believed to be the Largest Involving Cal State University System
Marissa Freeman suffered catastrophic injuries from heat stroke during an outdoor jogging class at Cal-State San Bernardino. Our Day in the Life video captured her dramatic struggle to recover.
At age 20, Marissa Freeman was working towards degrees in psychology and nutrition. She needed a Phys-Ed course to graduate. But her life was irreversibly altered when a Cal-State athletic teacher made Marissa’s class jog down a long, concrete course. It was a sweltering, 95 degree day in the California desert.
Marissa collapsed near the end of the 5K run. Incredibly, university personnel failed to use any of the rapid cooling measures they had on hand, including coolers of ice and ice water. Nor did they move Marissa to an air conditioned building just feet away.
As a result of the heat stroke, Marissa suffered severe brain injury and cardiac arrest. Within days, her kidneys and liver failed. Her muscle tissue began dying.
She spent more than a week in a coma and months in the hospital. Marissa then went through more than a year of intense, in-house rehabilitation at Casa Colina in Pomona.
That’s where the Attorneys’ Edge Production team met Marissa and her parents. Panish, Shea & Boyle hired us to capture a day in Marissa’s life. Our video aimed to thoroughly detail Marissa’s daily struggles.
Our camera was rolling as therapists patiently tried to help Marissa walk, speak and read simple words again. We captured the staff’s efforts to help her regain as much cognitive ability as possible. Our video showed how Marissa needed help with all of her daily activities including showering, dressing and getting to her wheelchair. She even had to re-learn how to eat.
“The video had a significant impact,” says Patrick Gunning, an attorney for Marissa. “It dramatically showed what Marissa was going through due to her horrific injuries. Moreover, Attorneys’ Edge captured, not only her struggles, but her determination to get better and the heroic efforts of her care providers.”
As a result of the settlement, Marissa and her family can now move to a larger home. It will better accommodate Marissa’s needs. With more space, Marissa can more easily move her wheelchair from bedroom to bathroom to the breakfast table. Plus, the family can now face what’s expected to be a lifetime of Marissa’s medical bills.
California State University students are big winners too thanks to the negotiating skills of the Panish, Shea & Boyle team. The Cal-State University system has agreed to implement a policy for heat illness prevention and protocols at all of their 23 campuses.
“We insisted on that as part of the settlement to protect student safety,” says Gunning.
The new policies will hopefully prevent another CSU student from suffering the same tragedy as Marissa Freeman.