15 students now involved in legal action after tear-gas incident near Florence prison

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Florence Elementary School (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Florence Elementary School (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Arizona State Prison Complex (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Arizona State Prison Complex (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Attorney Don Cartier held a news conference Thursday (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Attorney Don Cartier held a news conference Thursday (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
FLORENCE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Valley attorney now says he is representing the families of 15 children who were sickened by tear gas used in a drill at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence in February.

"When I first began this matter, we had about five children," said attorney Don Cartier in a press conference Thursday. "But as of right now 15 children have decided to move forward."

Cartier is seeking $100,000 for each student. 

The incident happened during a prison training exercise when wind gusts blew tear gas to the area of Florence Elementary School which caused students who were out on the playground to suffer coughing, vomiting and eye and throat irritation.

[READ MORE: Students in Florence complain of cough, burning eyes from gas used during prison training exercise]

Cartier wouldn't go into any details about physical symptoms, but says the children involved are now suffering from "psychological effects."

"These kids have recurring nightmares and fear of being tear gassed again," he said.

The prison was conducting a routine drill in which correction officers deploy the gas, known as CS gas, on the prison yard in the event of a riot. No prisoners were in the yard at the time. 

The Arizona Department of Corrections acknowledges responsibility for the incident and says they are taking steps to prevent this from ever happening again. 

The families are disputing the findings of the DOC's investigation and are pursuing this lawsuit.

[READ MORE: Families of Florence students sickened by tear gas are suing the state]

Cartier’s firm has filed a notice of claim, which was served to state officials, including the Arizona Department of Corrections, Governor Ducey and the Attorney Generals Office.

"This is a quest about accountability," said Cartier. "We're not trying to really get a lot of attention or spotlight. We're just trying to make sure everybody knows about this/"

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