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Paynesville Area School District faces lawsuit over student injury

PAYNESVILLE -- The Paynesville Area School District is being sued over the injury of a high school student.

The parents of the student say their son suffered injuries caused by another student on May 14, 2005, when both boys were ninth graders, according to a complaint that the school district received in March. A boy allegedly pulled a chair out from under their son at school and tripped him, causing him to fall to the concrete floor, said the complaint, signed by attorney John Mack.

The parents say their son suffered a concussion, lacerations of the head, memory loss, depression, loss of intellectual function, personality change and "other permanent and disabling injuries," according to the complaint.

The case was filed May 11 in Stearns County District Court.

Paynesville Area Superintendent Todd Burlingame re-ferred questions about the lawsuit to the district's attorney.

The complaint alleges that the school district was negligent in supervising the boy who the parents say caused the injuries, and that the district knew the boy had a history of "assaultive and violent" behavior.

The parents also claim the school district was negligent in treating their son after the incident, during which their son was lying on the floor unconscious and bleeding from the back of his head, the complaint said.

The parents said the district moved their son and placed him in a chair, which they said compounded his injury, according to the complaint. The parents also said the district failed to call 911, a doctor or other medical care, the complaint said.

The parents are seeking $50,000 from the school district as well as a total of $102,000 from the other boy and his parents.

The school district's attorney, Michael Milligan, responded to the complaint on March 22 and denied the allegations.

The district concedes that the boy accused in the lawsuit may have pulled a chair out from underneath the other boy, according to its answer to the complaint. That boy then picked up his chair and went up to the boy who had pulled it, the answer said. The boy who had pulled the chair then "may have kicked at the feet" of the alleged victim, who then fell to the floor, the school district's answer said.

The school district said it does not know the extent of the boy's injuries and asks for proof, Milligan wrote. The school district said the boy's conduct was not foreseeable based on any prior knowledge concerning his behavior and said the boy is not an assaultive person, according to the answer.

The district also denies it was negligent in treating the injured boy. The school nurse was called to treat him, and his parents were called and asked whether they wanted an ambulance called, according to Milligan's answer. The district also says it did not "negligently move" the boy after the incident.

The district also says the date the parents say the incident occurred is inaccurate, according to the answer.

Both boys are still students at Paynesville Area High School, according to the school district.

A scheduling conference for the case has been set for Aug. 28, according to the Stearns County Courthouse.