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Crittenden v. Florence County School District One

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division

December 15, 2017

Alonda Crittenden, Individually and as Guardian Ad Litem for J.C., a minor under the age of eighteen 18 years Plaintiff,
v.
Florence County School District One, Bernard A. McIntosh, Myra Isaiah, and Janeene Johnson, Defendants.

          Duff & Childs, L.L.C. By Laura Callaway Hart, William C. Freeman Attorneys for Florence County School District One

          Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick, P.A. By Neil Alger, Lee D. Cope Attorneys for Petitioner

          Davidson & Lindemann, P.A. By William H. Davidson, II Attorneys for Bernard A. McIntosh

          Bryan Law Firm of SC, LLP By: John R. Moorman, Attorneys for Petitioner.

          Alonda Crittenden, Guardian ad Litem and natural parent of J.C., the minor plaintiff

          John Crittenden, natural parent of J.C., the Minor plaintiff.

          ORDER APPROVING MINOR SETTLEMENT

          R. BRYAN HARWELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court upon the Petition of Alonda Crittenden, Individually and as Guardian ad Litem of J.C., a minor under the age of eighteen (18) years, to approve a settlement agreed upon between Petitioner and Florence County School District One ("the District") and Bernard A. McIntosh ("McIntosh"). The Petitioner and counsel appeared before me to present the Petition and seek approval.

         The parties have represented to the Court that all parties to this settlement are properly represented and are properly before the Court, no questions exist as to misjoinder or nonjoinder of parties, and the Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties.

         Petitioner filed a lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas for the County of Florence, South Carolina, which lawsuit was removed by the Defendants to this Court, asserting claims against Florence County School District ("the District"), Bernard A. McIntosh ("McIntosh"), Myra Isaiah, and Janeene Johnson, based on injuries allegedly sustained by the minor person J.C., (hereinafter "the minor person"), arising out of an incident on November 6, 2014 in which Bernard A. McIntosh, a former employee of the District, allegedly assaulted the minor person i while the minor person was a student at the Clinical Day Program which serves some students with disabilities consisting of serious behavioral problems in the District in Florence County, South Carolina. Prior to this Petition, Petitioner and all other parties named in the lawsuit stipulated to the dismissal with prejudice of the District's employee Myra Isaiah and the District's former employee Janeene Johnson from the lawsuit, and they have been so dismissed with prejudice.

         The minor person received no medical treatment for physical injury resulting from the incident. Some weeks, months, and years after the incident, the minor person received psychiatric and psychological treatment from various mental health providers, but there is a serious question as to whether such treatment was for mental and emotional injury and distress allegedly resulting from the above-described incident or was instead solely related to the continuation and progression of the minor person's serious pre-existing psychiatric and/or psychological conditions and, therefore, was not related to the above-described incident. As of the date of this hearing, Medicaid is seeking subrogation and reimbursement in the amount of $3, 591.64. Petitioner is disputing this amount, however, Petitioner further agrees and acknowledges that she, individually as parent of the minor, J.C., shall be solely responsible for the satisfaction of this lien and any future liens asserted by Medicaid. The disputed amount of $3, 591.64 is being withheld from the individual settlement of Petitioner and of John Crittenden, as natural parents of the minor, J.C., pending the resolution of this dispute.

         There are very serious issues as to whether McIntosh can he held liable for the damages of the minor person or other injured parties. McIntosh expressly denies liability for any injury to the minor persons or other parties. Petitioner claims that McIntosh was grossly negligent in assaulting and failing to act reasonably with respect to the minor person and, further, that he violated the minor's substantive due process rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution by depriving the minor of his bodily integrity. McIntosh argues that he was not grossly negligent and that his behavior did not shock the conscience nor was it egregious or arbitrary in the constitutional sense. Therefore, Petitioner, based upon the advice of her attorney and her understanding of the claims against McIntosh, understands that liability is questionable.

         There are also very serious issues as to whether the District can be held liable for the damages of the minor person or other injured parties. The District expressly denies liability for any injury to the minor person or other parties. Petitioner claims that the District was grossly negligent in its hiring, training and supervision of McIntosh and, further, that the District violated the substantive due process rights of the minor person by failing to protect him from the alleged assault by McIntosh. The District argues that it was not grossly negligent, but rather that it met and greatly exceeded the standard of "slight care" required under the South Carolina Tort Claims Act in its hiring, training and supervision of its employees and, specifically, of McIntosh, as well as in its supervision and protection of its student, the minor person. The District also argues that it had no policy, custom, or persistent and widespread practice of failing to properly train or supervise its employees, and that it was not deliberately indifferent to the rights of its students and, particularly, of the minor person. Therefore, Petitioner, based upon the advice of her attorney and her understanding of the claims against the District, understands that liability is questionable.

         The Petitioner retained the law firms of Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick, P.A. and Bryan Law Firm of SC, LLP as legal counsel in this matter and, pursuant to the agreement between the Petitioner and her legal counsel, Petitioner's legal counsel will receive, from the proceeds of the settlement, Thirty-Three Thousand, Three Hundred, Thirty-Three and 34/100 Dollars ($33, 333.34) in attorneys' fees in this action and for all claims against the Defendants, their officials, employees, agents, properties, servants, insurers, indemnitors and ...


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