Student gets millions for trip illness

March 28, 2013 at 3:13 PM

BRIDGEPORT, Conn., March 28 (UPI) -- A lawyer said a New England prep school had the resources to pay a nearly $42 million judgment to a former student who became ill on a school trip to China.

The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn., was found responsible for past and future medical expenses for the student, who contracted a devastating case of viral encephalitis in mountainous region of China during a trip in 2007 that was supposed to have been limited to urban areas.

The school had no immediate comment on the federal-court award, however Bridgeport lawyer Antonio Ponvert, who represented the former student, told the Connecticut Law review the sum was possible with insurance coverage and school's cash reserves.

"This school is very well endowed, a very prestigious eastern boarding school that bills itself as having a premier travel abroad program," he said.

Cara Munn, 20, of New York, said the travel abroad program's organizers erred when they failed to warn her she would be traveling through forests and mountains and should pack appropriate clothing to protect herself. Evidence in court indicated the trip was billed as an excursion to three Chinese cities.

The Law Review said the encephalitis, which is carried by ticks and other insects, left Munn unable to speak and with limited control of her limbs. The award covers medical procedures and doctors as well as the $100,000 it cost to fly her home from China.

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