I haven't been able to locate the actual ruling but Ruth Burns' wrongful death suit against East Elite Cheer Gym in Tewksbury, Massachusetts was dismissed by the Middlesex Superior Court. Ashley Burns was 14-years-old when practicing a routine with her team died from a ruptured spleen. No teammates or coaches were named in the suit, only the owners and coaches of East Elite Cheer Gym, the U.S. All Star Federation for Cheer and Dance Teams; along with the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators. The story was first covered in 2008 by the Boston Herald.

According to Inside Medford, "Ashley died in the summer of 2005, just before she was to become a freshman at Medford High School. The petite Burns was often used as a flyer during cheering stunts. She was practicing an arabesque double-twist dismount when she fell, resulting in a lacerated spleen."

Fliers are for the most-part light and small allowing their teammates to toss them high into the air. The Fliers are at risk of serious injury and death due to falls.

The Boston Herald carried the story and quoted the lawsuit as claiming: Ashley Burns was a flyer who was popped up by two cheerleaders serving as bases and attempted to perform an arabesque double-twist dismount at East Elite but fell, according to the lawsuit.

The Plaintiff's attorney is Robert Bonsignore, Ruth Burns Medford attorney. Like the auger industry in the 1980's those organizations making money in this multi-billion dollar industry are resisting the creation and application of standards that would set limits on how young children are handled when participating in cheering activities. One notable exception and a tireless advocate for safety changes is Kimberly Archie, the CEO/Founder of National Cheer Safety. The National Cheer Safety Foundation can found at www.nationalcheersafety.com or www.internationalcheersafety.com.

Pat Burns, Ashley's mother has created an online memorial for her only child.

The InjuryBoard law firms in Massachusetts are Steven H. Schaefer & Associates in Boston and the Law Offices of Bruce A Bierhans, LLC in Wellfleet.

According the Mayo Clinic website a ruptured spleen is typically caused by a blow to the left upper abdomen or the left lower chest.

Causes By Mayo Clinic staff

A ruptured spleen is typically caused by a blow to the left upper abdomen or the left lower chest. Sporting mishaps, fist fights and car accidents are common triggers. An injured spleen may rupture soon after the abdominal trauma or, in some cases, days or even weeks after the injury.

An enlarged spleen - which may be caused by various underlying problems, from mononucleosis and other infections to liver disease and blood cancers - may sometimes rupture with trauma to the abdomen. In fact, a ruptured spleen is the most significant complication of mononucleosis.

No doubt about it, parents whose children participate in cheerleading need to know the complications that can result from various injuries cheerleaders may suffer during practice and game day. Parents need to keep in mind that several states have told parents they are on their own when catastrophic injuries occur. Such was ruling in Wisconsin in Noffke vs. Bakke.

Here is what is wrong with Wisconsin's Anti-Cheerleader Tort ...

... Listen to the podcast. Follow the safety rules for high school and college cheer safety! ... You have to do the same with your personal cheer plan. ... 101k

Learn more about cheerleading injuries, injury prevention and news of what's happening in the legal world concerning cheerleading and this multi-billion dollar industry. For comments, concerns or questions about this blog contact Steve Lombardi, 515-222-1110 or at [email protected]. I can always be contacted through our law firm website where I continue to develop a section for cheerleading safety and law.

Remember to protect yourself because when the chips are down it seems the Cheerleading industry isn't leading the way. Remember to protect yourself because when the chips are down it seems the Cheerleading industry isn't leading the way. Every parent of a cheerleader needs catastrophic insurance coverage for both medical treatment and hospitalization. Long-term care coverage is a must when trying to pay for brain damaged, quadriplegic or paraplegic types of injuries.


Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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