United States District Court, D. Minnesota
G. Villaume, Esq., Jeffrey D. Schiek, Esq. and Villaume &
Schiek, P.A., counsel for plaintiff.
G. Felix, Esq., Lawrence M. Rocheford, Esq. and Jardine Logan
& O'Brien PLLP, counsel for defendants.
S. Doty, Judge
matter is before the court upon the motion for summary
judgment by defendants Independent School District No. 625,
school district superintendent Valeria Silva, and assistant
superintendent Theresa Battle. After a review of the file,
record, and proceedings herein, and for the following
reasons, the court grants the motion.
dispute arises out of the physical assault of plaintiff John
Ekblad by a student at Central Senior High School (CSHS).
Ekblad has been a physical science teacher at CSHS since
approximately 2011. Ekblad Dep. at 60:8-21. At various times
throughout his tenure, Ekblad served as a lunchroom
supervisor and safety team member. Id. at
115:22-116:6. He also coached various athletic teams and
assisted with site supervision and security at athletic
events. Id. at 118:12-15. Relevant here, Ekblad was
a lunchroom supervisor for the 2014-15 school year, for which
he received additional compensation. Id. at
133:22-134:16, 135:5-8. In that role, he monitored students
and helped maintain order by, among other things, telling
students not to fight and, occasionally, intervening to break
up fights. Id. at 133:22-134:7, 231:16-232:8. The
school district did not require Ekblad to intervene in
fights, however, and it could not discipline him for failing
to do so. Silva Dep. at 52:21-54:13; Mackabee Dep. at
32:22-34:15. But the school district instructs teachers to
intervene to restore safety if they feel they can do so
safely. Mackabee Dep. at 34:9-15; Battle Dep. at
122:13-123:14; Krois Dep. at 64:2-8.
December 4, 2015, a fight broke out between students -F.S.O.
and F.L.O. - during the lunch period Ekblad was supervising.
A support staff member called Ekblad over to intervene, and
when he did so, he was seriously injured by F.S.O. Ekblad
Dep. at 178:19-179:6; Villaume Aff. Ex. I, at 10-12. Ekblad
concedes that he was “on the job, on the clock
working” for the school district when he was assaulted.
Ekblad Dep. at 194:9-16. During and after the incident,
F.S.O. made aggressive comments, including that he
“slamm[ed] that white-ass teacher.” Villaume Aff.
had no contact with F.S.O. - in or outside of school -before
the incident. See Ekblad Dep. at 144:45 (“I
don't recall ever knowing him. I couldn't pick him
out of a lineup.”). He acknowledges that he was not
specifically targeted in the incident and that there is no
indication that F.S.O. personally bore him any ill will.
Id. at 148:3-149:2, 151:23-152:3, 158:23-159:2;
see also Krois Dep. at 51:22-23 (agreeing that it
“could have happened to anyone”). There is no
evidence in the record that F.S.O. had been violent at school
prior to the incident.
has received workers' compensation benefits since the
incident, including disability payments and vocational
rehabilitation benefits. Polzin Decl. ¶¶ 3-4, 7.
The school district has paid, and continues to pay, his
medical bills. Id. ¶¶ 8-9.
March 1, 2016, Ekblad filed suit against defendants in Ramsey
County District Court. Ekblad alleges negligence and
negligent supervision by the school district and violations
of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by Silva and Battle. Ekblad contends
that defendants failed to protect him despite knowing that
there were serious safety concerns at CSHS. Defendants timely
removed to this court and now move for summary judgment.
Standard of Review
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A fact is material only when its
resolution affects the outcome of the case. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute
is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a
reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party. See
id. at 252.
motion for summary judgment, the court views all evidence and
inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Id. at 255. The nonmoving party, however, may not
rest upon mere denials or allegations in the pleadings but
must set forth specific facts sufficient to raise a genuine
issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. A party
asserting that a genuine dispute exists - or cannot exist -
about a material fact must cite “particular parts of
materials in the record.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). If
a plaintiff cannot support each essential element of a claim,
the court must grant ...