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Chrissie Cole
Chrissie Cole
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Suit Settled in Gymnast's Paralyzing Injury

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A settlement has been reached this month in a lawsuit between a 17-year-old gymnast and the gym where she suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury last year. The details of the settlement are sealed. Circuit Judge W. Lowell Bray Jr. signed off on the agreement this month.

The settlement with /suncoast Gymnastics Academy Inc. can could aid funding for the parents of Samantha Slusak to help with new treatments for their daughter. Due to the confidentiality of the settlement, Frank and Cellie Slusak declined to make any comments. Their attorney, Brandon Peters, also declined to comment.

On July 12, 2005, the lawsuit alleged, Slusak attempted a difficult new maneuver “beyond her skill level” at the behest of an academy employee. The suit accused the gym of negligence, but the gym’s owners described it as a freak accident during a routine maneuver.

Slusak attempted a front flip off a trampoline into a cushioned pit – but never got out. She not only injured her neck, but bruised her spinal cord. The teen was left paralyzed below the shoulders.

She was flown to a Tampa hospital where she was placed in intensive care. The community rallied to raise money for her, as did gym owners Arnold and Cindy Gwinn. Slusak eventually returned home to continue her schooling and undergo daily therapy. “Some days are good, some are bad,” she told the Times last Christmas. “I just take it day by day.”