Cheerleader sues coach over broken ankle

Young woman says she was forced to keep practicing after injury

By Katheran Wasson Published:

A young woman who says she broke her ankle at a summer cheerleading camp has sued three former Franklin County Public Schools employees.

Caitlin Russell, a former Franklin County High School student, and her mother, Stephanie Andre, filed the suit Friday in Franklin Circuit Court.

The suit names as defendants former Superintendent Harrie Buecker, former FCHS Principal Sharon Collett and former FCHS cheerleading coach Jamie Byrd.

All three women are named “in her individual capacity.” The school system is not a defendant. Superintendent Chrissy Jones said she was unaware of the lawsuit, but would look into the matter.

Byrd told The State Journal she was also unaware of the lawsuit and had no comment because the allegations had “no merit, really.” She said she no longer coaches cheerleading at FCHS.

She is co-owner of The Cheer Leader Magazine.

According to the complaint, Russell was at a cheerleading camp at the University of Kentucky in July 2010 when she “fell and was injured while performing a cheerleading stunt” while under Byrd’s supervision.

Russell told Byrd that her left ankle hurt, but Byrd “directed and required” the cheerleader to “continue practicing and attempt additional stunts despite” the pain, according to the complaint.

The complaint says that on-site sports trainers from the University of Kentucky treated Russell for a sprained ankle and directed her to rest. She asked to call her parents, but Byrd said no, according to the complaint.

Russell called her parents later that evening, and they picked her up from the University of Kentucky and took her to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a broken ankle, the complaint says.

The suit alleges that Byrd “negligently and recklessly” caused Russell’s injury by “requiring her to perform cheerleading stunts on an already injured ankle,” and that she interfered with Russell’s ability to communicate with her parents.

It further says that Buecker and Collett “failed to adequately train, supervise and monitor” Byrd’s activities.

Buecker and Collett could not be reached for comment.

The suit says Russell has permanent injuries and has incurred medical expenses. She is seeking a trial by jury and an unspecified amount of damages.

Jeremy J. Nelson, an attorney with the Sampson Law Firm in Louisville, is representing Russell. Reached by phone this morning, Nelson said that Russell is no longer a student at FCHS and has moved out of state.

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  • LOL @ 1713. So there you go calling this girl a liar. I suppose that you were there. I know that this is only one side of the story but when the other side is given their chance to speak & defend, they clam up & give no comment. Why is that 1713? I'll tell you why, because SILENCE IS GOLDEN! No innocent person is afraid to speak the truth & speaking the truth will never ever get a person in trouble legally unless that truth is a confession. By the way, I think that a lot of rational people will make up their mind one way or another when a person refuses to comment.

  • Nobody "forced" her to continue on an injured ankle. If she had said that she could not continue, then that would have been it. I have been in and around high school sports a lot and that isn't the way it works. It is pretty obvious to me that the coaches asked her if she could continue and she said "yes". Fractures and sprains may not be readily apparent. I will bet that this goes nowhere...as it should.

  • The line was crossed when she was forced to continue. Injuries are to be expected in all sports & coaches are expected to recognize them. This coach didn't.

  • 1713 that is true but......they should not have required her to perform more practice on an injured ankle. Also what was with not letting her inform her parents of the injury? I think this could have been handled much better than it was. Just think she has permanent injuries. As a parent I too would have been mad as ****.

  • Whatever happened to personal responsibility? All cheerleaders have to know that they can turn an ankle in their sport. Sheesh!!