ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit from a Minnesota high school teacher who was body-slammed by a student.
The Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported U.S. District Judge David Doty said Thursday that science teacher John Ekblad must instead go through the workers compensation system.
Ekblad was assaulted by a student while trying to break up a fight in the lunchroom at St. Paul Central High School in December 2015. He filed a lawsuit in March against the former superintendent Valeria Silva and assistant superintendent Theresa Battle of Saint Paul Public Schools, saying they failed to protect him.
Ekblad’s attorney, Phil Villaume, argued that the assault exception, intentional act exception and co-employee liability exception of the Minnesota workers compensation laws all applied to Ekblad’s case. Doty found that none of the exceptions applied to the case.
Villaume argued Ekblad’s job duties didn’t require him to put himself in harm’s way. But Doty said because Ekblad received extra pay to be a lunchroom supervisor, he had acted within the scope of his employment when he attempted to break up the fight.
“Ekblad, a school district employee paid to maintain order and safety in the lunchroom, intervened in the fight in the course of his duties. Under these circumstances, his injuries arose from circumstances directly related to his employment,” Doty wrote.
The school district said it has already paid Ekblad more than $65,000 in workers compensation and tens of thousands of dollars in medical benefits.
Ekblad said he has ongoing memory and hearing loss, headaches, tremors and a burning sensation in his foot because of the attack. He now receives disability payments from Social Security, he said.
Ekblad’s attorney said they plan to appeal.
The 16-year-old student who injured Ekblad pleaded guilty to third-degree felony assault. He was given 90 days of home monitoring and community service.
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