A Cal Poly dairy science student has filed a lawsuit against the university claiming negligence after her leg was crushed by a 1,400-pound cow last year.
Nicole Nelsen, a junior at the time of the incident, alleges in the suit that employees didn’t properly supervise an artificial insemination class she was taking.
As she was working on a cow in a mobile shed Nov. 6, another cow broke in and crushed her leg — tearing ligaments and damaging blood vessels, according to her attorney.
The suit alleges the university was negligent in how it kept the condition of its facilities, which created a dangerous situation.
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“She was working on inseminating a heifer when a second heifer broke through defective gate(s) and then through a wooden door to the shed and injured her,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit, filed May 5 in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, represents only one side of the story.
Cal Poly officials did not respond to requests for comment this week, saying they hadn’t been served with the lawsuit yet.
The injury happened at the Beef Cattle Unit on campus, according to the lawsuit.
Nelsen’s San Luis Obispo-based attorney, Daniel J. O’Neill, claimed in his description of the incident that Nelsen wasn’t able to easily exit the shed and she was pinned by the cow.
O’Neill told The Tribune that the instructor wasn’t present to supervise and left two students in charge, failing to properly monitor the cattle.
“Her leg was almost amputated,” O’Neill said. “If it weren’t for the help of some of her fellow undergrads, she could have been crushed to death.”
The lawsuit doesn’t seek a specific amount of money for the damages, though it has been filed as an unlimited civil case, which means the plaintiff is seeking at least $25,000.
O’Neill said Nelsen is recuperating at home after recently undergoing a second major surgery and her medical bills are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“She hopes that good will come from her injury if it causes the university to pay more attention to student safety,” O’Neill said.