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Family receives $285K in school beating case

BRADENTON — The Manatee County School Board may soon appeal a jury verdict awarding $285,000 in damages to the family of a student severely beaten in a classroom in front of his teacher.

Jurors found the school board was negligent for the facial injuries Jesse Shipman, then 12, sustained at Harlee Middle School on April 28, 2004.

Shipman was attacked by a 13-year-old classmate named Joshua Grooms, said Amiee Buckman, who represented the Shipman family with her husband, Drake Buckman.

“He punched him repeatedly until he was unconscious on the ground, and then began to punch and kick him more,” she said.

Shipman sustained more then 10 facial fractures in the attack.

“He basically had to have his facial bones put back together,” Buckman said. “They had to wait 2 1/2 months to have the swelling go down before they could attempt to begin the reconstruction. He still has some sinus problems.”

Grooms, she said, had an extensive disciplinary record and was later convicted of felony battery in the beating,

Buckman said the classroom teacher did nothing to stop the attack.

Shipman’s mother, Lucinda Affedlt, filed suit against the school board in December 2007.

The jury handed down the verdict Friday at the Manatee County Judicial Center. It awarded Shipman’s family $35,000 in damages for medical costs because the boy had to have reconstructive facial surgery.

They also received $250,000 for past and future pain and suffering.

School Board Attorney John Bowen on Monday said he plans to recommend to the school board that it appeal the verdict.

No one can foresee when a student is going to attack another student, Bowen said.

“It was not preventable,” he said.