West Virginia National Guard, ChalleNGe Academy respond to cadet's suit

Cadets salute during a ceremony at Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy in West Virginia in this June, 2018 photo.


By KATHY PLUM | The Dominion Post | Published: September 11, 2018

KINGWOOD, W.Va. (TribuneNews Service) — The West Virginia National Guard and Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy are asking for a lawsuit filed by a former MCA cadet to be dismissed.

They also ask to be paid costs, expenses and attorney fees incurred in defending against the suit.

Jason Ryan Moorhead, of Bruno, Logan County, filed the civil suit in Preston County Circuit Court in July. Moorhead said he suffered “severe injury” to his right and left femurs (thigh bones) jumping from the top bunk while at the Academy in 2015.

His parents were not notified of the injuries and he did not receive adequate medical treatment, Moorhead, now an adult, says in the lawsuit.

In their response, the Guard and MCA deny all Moorhead’s allegations that he was injured, that he was denied medical treatment, that he complained to staff of his injuries and pain, that his parents were not notified of any injuries and that he was lying on the floor unable to move when his mother came to get him.

The defendants also say they are immune from any claim for punitive damages asserted in the complaint, and that they are entitled to “qualified and/or good faith immunity from liability because the Defendants acted lawfully in all actions taken by them with regard to Plaintiff.”

They also did not violate any, “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of the Plaintiff of which a reasonable person should have known,” the response says. In fact, it goes on to say, they complied with, “all applicable laws, rules and regulations with regard to,” Moorhead.

MCA and the Guard also reserved the right to file a counterclaim, cross-claim or third party claim in the matter.

The ChalleNGe Acad-emy is a free, 22-week residential program at Camp Dawson, Preston County, run by the West Virginia Army National Guard. At-risk youth 16-18 years old can attend, with the aim of making them, “productive and contributing members of society.”

In a quasi-military setting, the academy is centered around eight core components: Academic excel-lence, life coping skills, job skills, health and hygiene, responsible citizenship, service to the community, leadership/followership and physical fitness.

The lawsuit is one of two against the Academy and Guard currently in Preston County Circuit Court. The other was filed by the family of Cadet Gatlin Evan Jones, who died in 2012 after leaving MCA. That lawsuit was filed in 2014 and has not yet gone to trial.

©2018 The Dominion Post (Morgantown, W.Va.)
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