STOCKTON, Calif. — It's a position Shynelle Jones never expected to be in. 

A year and a half after her then 13-year-old son Jayden spent five days in the hospital — including two in the intensive care unit — after getting severe heat stroke during football practice at Stockton's Lincoln High School, she's now caught up in a legal battle with the district over the incident.

"I'm angry," Jones told ABC10. "It's tough because my son's hurt and I'm getting sued." 

Following the incident in summer of 2017, Jones decided to sue the school district, citing gross negligence. She said the coach denied Jayden water when he asked to take a break and didn't follow proper protocols when he showed signs of heat stroke, allowing him to go home after practice with his friends instead of seeking medical attention.

But now, she just learned, the district is suing her in return.

"She sued for gross negligence because of their activities, and they have now cross-complained against her asking she hold them harmless for all their attorney fees they’re going to incur," Jones' attorney Kenneth Meleyco explained.

Jayden, who is now 15 and a sophomore at Lincoln High, described what happened that day during an interview with ABC10 in 2017. He said he started feeling sick during football practice in roughly 105-degree weather and ended up passing out at the end of the practice.


Hours later, when his health continued to decline, he was airlifted to UC Davis Children's hospital where he was put in the ICU. 

"My vision was all blurry. I was like really loopy, so I started vomiting everywhere," Jayden, who was left with a temporary limp and limited movement in his muscles, recalled at the time.

Jones and her lawyer allege that the school was grossly negligent "in not following the rules" of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) for how to deal with hydration and potential heat stroke. 

According to CIF guidelines attached to Jones' complaint, the CIF offers recommendations for schools that include advising coaches to cancel or move practices indoors during very hot weather and keep adequate medical personnel on-site to handle heat illnesses or emergencies.

An attorney representing the Lincoln Unified School District said the district does not agree with Jones' allegations in the lawsuit and would not comment further, citing pending litigation.

Where things also get murkier, is that Jones and Jayden both signed a waiver of liability notice from the school, which states that the persons signing "voluntarily releases, discharges, waives and relinquishes any and all actions or causes of action for personal injury, property damage or wrongly death occurring to him/her" from the athletic activity.

Meleyco, however, believes that the waiver should be voided because of what he believes was negligence.

"What we’re saying is it's a fraud on the parents because they don’t say in there they’re not going to follow the rules," Meleyco said of the waiver, "And if they're not going to follow the rules injuries are going to happen."     

A trial date has not yet been set but is likely to be in early 2020.

It's also important to note that just his year — on January 1, 2019 — a new state law took effect that now requires all coaches of high school athletics to undergo training that will help them spot the signs and symptoms of heat illness and how to respond to it.

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