Schools, teacher sued by parent

nalund@bradenton.comApril 1, 2010 

BRADENTON — A Bradenton mother is suing the Manatee County School Board and a physical education teacher she says failed to supervise a class where her daughter was intentionally injured by another student.

Plaintiff Rica Ben-Shushan claims her daughter was purposely tripped by another student during gym class April 23, 2008, at Sugg Middle School, according to a 10-page lawsuit filed this week in Bradenton.

Teacher Vicky McDaniel was not paying attention to her students as the woman’s daughter, age 12 at the time, ran around the tennis courts alongside her classmates, according to the suit.

A classmate tripped the girl, she fell to the ground, the suit alleges, and injured her nose and her face, and chipped her front tooth.

Jim Delgado, the Palmetto-based attorney for the plaintiff, said McDaniel had been aware that the girl had been bullied by her classmate for some time, and should have been paying attention.

“They were horsing around and my client was the victim of it,” Delgado said. “All we wanted was the school’s insurance company to pay for her injuries and they chose to deny all liability and coverage.”

“The actions of the child,” the suit continues, “involving intentionally tripping another student were unreasonable, in violation of the policies and procedures of Sugg Middle School, the policies and procedures of the school board of Manatee County and in violation of Florida law.”

The school board, the suit continues, failed to provide a safe and healthy environment and proper supervision for the girl.

The suit cites allegations including negligence, battery and vicarious liability.

As a result, the girl incurred medical expenses, was unable to attend school for sometime and suffered mental anguish from the incident, the suit states. The suit is seeking damages in excess of $15,000.

School board attorney John Bowen, who learned about the lawsuit Wednesday, said that under Florida law, teachers cannot be named as defendants unless they are guilty of willful reckless disregard for the safety of others.

“We’ll investigate and determine whether or not there is any liability,” Bowen said.

McDaniel could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

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