January 8, 2014 | Vol.54 N.2

Lake Stevens School District settles claim in Nifasha wrongful death suit

May 31, 2013 was a sad day for all who live in the Lake Stevens School District. Fedrick Nifasha, a 20-year-old student with developmental disabilities was found at the bottom of the pool at Lake Stevens High School.

Nifasha and his family were refugee camp survivors from Tanzania. Fedrick was in a school program that helps developmentally disabled students learn life skills and hopefully enter the workforce. He had previously survived a brain surgery to help with his epilepsy.

The attorney hired by the family in September, filed a $7.5 million claim against the district. That claim was settled with the Lake Stevens School District on October 21, 2013 for $500,000.

As part of the settlement the family agreed to waive their rights to file any lawsuits in the future regarding Fedrick's death. The settlement also states that $10,000 must be saved for each of his six siblings.

The school district was not required to pay the family's attorneys fees, however, they did pay for some court fees. Documents state that the family attorney received approximately $151,000.

"We continue to express our heartfelt apologies for the loss of Fedrick," said Dr. Amy Beth Cook, Lake Stevens School District Superintendent. "We worked with the Nifasha family, and their attorney, in a private and respectful process to come to an agreement that provides them support." 

The district told reporters that Nifasha and other students were part of a physical education class and were getting into the swimming pool when the teacher noticed one of the students was missing. The aquatics manager was at the pool at the time of the accident as well. She is a certified lifeguard.

Nifasha was pulled from the pool and rushed to Providence Medical Center where he was placed on life support. He died a week later.

The family had survived the refugee camp after being forced out of their home in Burundi. Nifasha's father lived in the camp for decades, a family spokesperson reported in June of this year. The family was able to immigrate to the United States partly to help with Fedrick's medical needs.

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