Disabled student's thumb injury results in lawsuit

By Lawrence Smith | Sep 9, 2010

RIPLEY -– A Jackson County woman is suing the county school board for injuries her son sustained after being disciplined earlier this year.

RIPLEY -– A Jackson County woman is suing the county school board for injuries her son sustained after being disciplined earlier this year.

Catherine M. Mefford filed suit against the Jackson County Board of Education in Jackson Circuit Court on Aug. 20. In her complaint, Mefford, a Ravenswood resident, alleges personnel at Ripley Middle School did not timely respond to her son's calls for help after his thumb got caught in a door jamb.

According to the suit, the son, who is only identified by his initials, C.A., was a student at RMS during the 2009-2010 school year. At the time, he was 14-years-old.

Due to several mental and physical conditions such as Rapp-Hodgkin's Syndrome and Mytonic Muscular Dystrophy, C.A. is "mentally impaired and has the intellectual capacity of an infant child." Because he requires close supervision, C.A. is subject to an Individual Education Plan.

According to the suit, C.A. was placed into a "time-out room" at RMS on Jan. 27. The reason he was placed in the room, and by whom, is not stated.

As the door closed, C.A.'s right thumb got caught in the jamb. The suit alleges C.A. screamed after his thump became stuck in the jamb, but it was only after he continued to scream that someone checked on him, and discovered his thump was stuck.

The suit does not state the interval between when he was placed in the room, and the discovery of when his thumb was stuck in the door jamb. Nevertheless, Mefford alleges C.A. suffered "a fracture of his right thumb, which involved the complete separation of the bone."

In the suit, Mefford maintains the Board "knew or should have known a substantial hazard existed with respect to the placement of mentally impaired students into a small "time out room." As a result of the Board's negligence, Mefford alleges C.A. has suffered "mental and physical pain...mental anguish...and loss of enjoyment of life."

Mefford seeks unspecified damages, interest, attorney fees and court costs. She is represented by Brent K. Kesner with the Charleston law firm of Kesner, Kesner and Bramble, and Kevin C. Harris, Eric J. Holmes and Erin K. King with the Ripley law firm of Harris and Holmes.

The case is assigned to Judge Thomas C. Evans III

Jackson Circuit Court, case number 10-C-131

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