Trumbull pays settlement to injured cheerleader
BRIDGEPORT — The town of Trumbull has agreed to pay a settlement to a former Trumbull High School cheerleader severely injured in a fall during a team practice.
The settlement was reached as a civil suit brought on behalf of Kristen Galuardi was about to go to trial in Superior Court.
The town will split the settlement with the Gymnastics and Cheerleading Academy of Fairfield. The amount of the settlement is not being disclosed.
“It was a mutually satisfying result and takes into account what happened to Kristen and the expenses she had,” said Galuardi’s lawyer, Paul Slager.
Trumbull Town Attorney Dan Schopick declined comment.
On Dec. 27, 2014, Galuardi, then a senior at Trumbull High School and a member of the school’s cheerleading team, was practicing with the team at the Gymnastics and Cheerleading Academy, according to the lawsuit.
Jane Marella, director of the academy and director of the cheerleading team, was supervising the practice and required Galuardi and her teammates to practice stunts without any spotting assistance, the suit states.
During one of the stunts, the suit states, Galuardi was thrown into the air to be caught by three teammates. However, Marella allowed one of the teammates to practice without sneakers in stocking feet.
When the teammates tried to catch the falling Galuardi, the one in stocking feet slipped and Galuardi landed head first on the mat-covered floor, the lawsuit states.
Despite the fact that Galuardi lost consciousness as the result of hitting her head, the suit states, Marella did not seek medical assistance for Galuardi and instructed her to remain at the facility for the rest of the session.
As a result of the fall, Galuardi suffered traumatic brain injury that caused her to miss significant parts of the school year for treatment and therapy, the suit states, and that she continues to suffer neurological effects that prevented her from attending the out-of-state college she planned.
Slager said his client, now 22, has improved.
“She has gotten through this with extra hard work and is doing better,” he said.
Marella was replaced in November as director of the high school’s cheerleading program. A spokesperson at the academy said Marella no longer works there and wouldn’t comment on the case.
Marella’s son, Victor Marella, who worked with her as a coach, is currently on probation after pleading guilty in 2016 to risk of injury to children. He was accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old cheerleader.
Last week the academy was sued by the family of a Fairfield teen who they claim was injured there during a gymnastics practice in 2016.