The family of Joshua Clute have revealed that Algonquin College is being sued for more than $1.2 million after an incident on their campus led to the death of 18-year-old Joshua. According to the family, they are suing the school for the “loss of guidance, care and companionship,” that resulted from Joshua’s death in 2018.
Joshua Clute was found on a concrete floor, at the foot of a stairwell at Algonquin College, Ottawa, on January 17, 2018. According to the family’s lawsuit, he had been on a short break from class in a nearby building when he climbed the staircase of ‘building C.’ The building was under renovation, but the staircase remained open to the public. The family believes that Joshua stepped onto a piece of drywall, which collapsed underneath him.
According to the statement filed by his family, Clute fell approximately nine metres. The consequences of the fall were severe, as he suffered a fractured skull, traumatic brain injury, a spinal injury and a collapsed lung. The student did not regain consciousness and his family were told that the damage was irreversible. Joshua was taken off life support nine days later, on January 26, 2018.
Paramedics at the time believed that Joshua could have been lying at the foot of the stairwell for an hour before he was found.
In their lawsuit against Algonquin College, the Clute family alleges that it was not clear to students that the drywall was a temporary structure, rather than a floor or a walkable surface. The family also believe that the school is responsible for failing to erect appropriate barriers, signage and security cameras, to ensure student safety during the renovations.
While the family maintains the school must be held accountable for Joshua’s death, none of the claims made in the lawsuit have been proven in court.
Clute’s family are asking for $1.2 million in damages from the school, to compensate the loss of income for Joshua’s parents, the $56,000 of medical bills from Ottawa Hospital and “the loss of guidance, care and companionship,” that has resulted from Joshua’s death.
According to the statement of defence from the school, the accident was a direct result of Clute’s negligence. The college believes that Clute failed to take appropriate precautions when he climbed over a railing and wasn’t wearing his glasses.
According to CBC News, the statement reads, "his faculties of observation, perception, judgment and self-control were impaired due to alcohol, drugs and/or fatigue." These claims have not been proven in court, either.
Reports also suggest that Algonquin College has filed a separate lawsuit against the contracting company completing the renovation, PCL Constructors Canada Inc. The school alleges that the drywall was used without their permission and if the area was fatally dangerous, the construction company had breached its contractual duties.
In a statement to Narcity, a representative from Algonquin College said, "on behalf of the entire College community we wish to again extend our sympathy to the Clute family in regard to this tragic incident. While all of the facts relating to this matter are not reflected in the existing media coverage, the College will not be commenting on the allegations in the lawsuit at this time, as it is before the court."