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10-31-06 Parkway is sued for over $1 million

By Shelley Grieshop

  A Mendon man has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking more than $1.5 million from the Parkway school district, its school board and a former golf coach for the traffic death of his daughter two years ago.

  James Shaffer, 11661 state Route 707, also is seeking the monetary damages from Mercer and Van Wert counties, through their county commissioners, for failing to provide a safe roadway.

  On Oct. 5, 2004, Shaffer's 15-year-old daughter, Brittany, was killed when the car she was riding in traveled off Tomlinson Road, near Mercer-Van Wert County Line Road, and came to rest in a creek after rolling down an embankment. A sophomore at Parkway High School, she was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. The car's driver, Trisha Strawn, sustained serious injuries.

   Brittany Shaffer and Strawn, 17, of Mendon, were members of the school's golf team and on their way home from a sectional tournament at Kalida when the accident occurred. The tournament took place during school hours.

  The civil suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division, in Toledo, because Shaffer claims his daughter's Constitutional rights were violated by the school as a "political subdivision" and those violations led to her death.   In court documents filed this month, Shaffer admits his daughter and Strawn did not qualify for the sectional tournament in Kalida and that the school principal refused to excuse them from school for the tournament and also refused to provide them transportation.

  Shaffer claims golf coach Phillip Winings of Rockford instructed Brittany Shaffer and Strawn to "have their parents call them in sick to school" and "drive to the city of Van Wert," where Winings met them and drove them to the competition.

  After the tournament, the entire team and Winings ate together in Van Wert before Shaffer and Strawn headed


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