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COA affirms $120,000 for student attacked at school

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A former Gary high school student is entitled to $120,000 in damages following an attack in a hallway during school, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday. Gary Community School Corp. appealed the jury award.

Prince Lardydell was a freshman at West Side High School when he was attacked in the hallway by several individuals for nearly 10 minutes. A teacher heard the attack and pressed a panic button. He had screamed for help but school safety personnel did not arrive until after the attack had ended and his attackers fled.

He and his mother, Erma, sued the school corporation. At trial, Andrea Ledbetter, who served on the school corporation’s board at the time of the attack, testified about a video of the attack she watched during an executive session. The jury found in favor of the Lardydells and awarded $120,000.

GCS argued the trial court shouldn’t have let Ledbetter testify about the video she watched during the executive session because the doctrine of qualified privilege applies to all discussions held during its board’s executive sessions.

Indiana’s Open Door Law is silent as to whether discussions during executive sessions are privileged or whether persons present during an executive session can be barred from disclosing what occurred during an executive session. GCS does not cite to any authority which has applied the doctrine of qualified privilege, or any other privilege, to bar board members of public agencies from testifying about all discussions during executive sessions, Senior Judge Card Darden wrote in Gary Community School Corporation v. Prince Lardydell b/n/f Erma Lardydell, 45A03-1306-PL-230.  

Ledbetter described in detail to the jury the video, a video that was not among those that GCS had disclosed to the Lardydells during discovery. The COA noted that Ledbetter complied with the trial court’s limitation that she not testify about communications that occurred during executive sessions.

GCS also argued the trial court erred in giving Final Instruction 12 because it misstated the law and allowed the jury to determine that GCS was negligent without first deciding whether the school breached the standard of ordinary and reasonable care. The instruction merely provided that if the Lardydells proved certain facts “beyond the weight of the evidence,” then the jury “may infer” negligence. The jury wasn’t obligated by the terms of the instruction to find negligence and GCS was free to submit evidence to rebut any inference of negligence, the judges held.

The school corporation also claimed the trial court should have granted its motion for a new trial or to alter or amend the judgment because the $120,000 award is unsupported by the evidence. Before the attack, Prince had aspirations to attend college and was an average student. After the attack, he experienced severe depression, was afraid to go outside and moved to Indianapolis. His academic performance also suffered at his new high school. Even six years after the attack, he is only able to find part-time work and is still concerned about leaving his house.

The Court of Appeals declined to second-guess the jury’s decision.   
 

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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