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Cal State to pay $39M to student who suffered heat stroke

Associated Press logoAssociated Press 2/22/2021

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — The California State University has reached a $39.5 million settlement with a former student who suffered a brain injury from heat stroke during a fitness class at the San Bernardino campus, the woman's lawyers announced Monday.

Marissa Freeman sued Cal State claiming pain and suffering after she collapsed following a 5-kilometer jog amid high temperatures in September 2018.

Freeman’s cognitive function, speech, and motor control remain severely impaired and she requires fulltime care, her lawyers said.

“The California State University is saddened by Ms. Freeman’s situation, and our hearts go out to her and her caring family. We are relieved to come to a resolution that will enable Ms. Freeman to receive the care she needs for the rest of her life," Cal State's Executive Vice Chancellor Andrew Jones said in a statement Monday.

Freeman's attorneys argued that Cal State employees had not received required training in heat illness prevention and treatment before the incident.

Cal State's lawyers contended that Freeman negligently overexerted herself in the class.

In addition to the monetary settlement, the university system agreed to implement a “policy for heat illness prevention, education and protocols” for each of its 23 campuses, according to the law firm Panish Shea & Boyle.

“The Freeman family is grateful that the Board of Trustees has agreed to put policies in place that will hopefully prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring to a CSU student,” Patrick Gunning, an attorney for Freeman, said in a statement.

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