Trenton child, parent sue school district for negligence

By Crystal Burns

A minor student and the child’s parent are suing the Trenton Special School District and another minor for negligence. Hearings are set to begin in Gibson County Circuit Court on December 11.

The plaintiff, who is represented by Michael Carter, a partner with Crocker & Carter, PLLC in Milan, originally filed the complaint in April 2015, naming just the school district. The suit was amended in December 2016 to include the other student involved in the incident as a defendant with the school district.

According to the amended complaint, the incident occurred on May 22, 2014 during a Trenton Elementary School trip to the city park where the minor defendant hit the plaintiff in the mouth with a wood baseball bat. The lawsuit asserts that the school district had informed students that aluminum baseball bats were not allowed at the park because they were too dangerous but wood bats were allowed.

The suit also says the school district did not provide adequate supervision that an ordinarily reasonable and prudent person would provide to children under similar circumstances and that the district did not have an adequate amount of staff at the park at the time of the plaintiff’s injury to supervise its students.

The complaint says the minor defendant negligently swung a wood baseball bat in close proximity to the plaintiff and owed the plaintiff a duty to take precautions that a reasonably prudent person of like age, capacity, knowledge and experience would take to protect the plaintiff from risk of injury.

The plaintiff is seeking compensatory damages of $300,000, that the court costs be taxed to the defendants, and other relief to which the plaintiff proves entitled.

Appeal

The district is also waiting to go back to Gibson County Circuit Court after the Court of Appeals in Jackson reversed a summary judgment in a lawsuit that claims the district was negligent in a case involving the alleged sexual assault of a six-year-old boy by another six-year-old boy in a bathroom at Trenton Elementary School.

The Jenkins Dedmon Hayes Law Group in Dyersburg represented the appellants.

The case arises from allegations that the boys were enrolled in kindergarten during the 2006-07 school year when one sexually assaulted the other five times. The lawsuit was filed in September 2011. A trial court granted the school district’s motion for summary judgment in July 2015, but the appeals court reversed the decision in 2016.

Circuit Court Clerk Cindy Flowers said there is currently no date scheduled for a new trial.

TSSD Director of Schools Tim Haney was principal at Peabody High School at the time of both incidents. He said the district’s lawyers had updated him on the lawsuits since he was hired as director in September.

“I’m very confident that we’re going to try to win these in court,” Haney said.

Purcell, Sellers & Craig, Inc. represents the school district in both cases.

Editor’s Note: Due to the involvement of minors and the sensitive nature of the lawsuits, The Gazette is not publishing the names of those involved at this time.

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