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KNICRUMAH v. ALBANY CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT

January 16, 2003

OSEI KNICRUMAH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ALBANY CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT; ALBANY CITY HIGH SCHOOL; LONNIE E. PALMER, INDIVIDUALLY, AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; JOHN METALLO, INDIVIDUALLY, AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; AND STUART TAYLOR, INDIVIDUALLY, AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David N. Hurd, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Osei Knicrumah ("plaintiff"), brought suit against defendants, Albany City School District and Albany City High School ("municipal defendants"); Lonnie Palmer ("Palmer"), Individually, and in his official capacity as Superintendent of Albany City High School; John Metallo ("Metallo"), Individually and in his official capacity as Principal of Albany City High School; and Stuart Taylor ("Taylor"), Individually, and in his official capacity as an employee of Albany City High School, alleging four causes of action:

In his first cause of action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiff alleges, as against the municipal defendants, Palmer, and Metallo, that excessive force was used against him by Taylor, such force being used as a result of a failure of these named defendants to properly train Taylor, or through an alleged policy of deliberate indifference to student needs, in violation of Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. In his second cause of action, also pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiff alleges, as against Taylor only, that excessive force was used against him by Taylor, in violation of plaintiff's right to be free from excessive force under the Fourteenth Amendment.

In his third cause of action, plaintiff alleges, as against all defendants, that defendants breached a duty of care to protect him at school, and that defendants are also liable for prima facie tort and intentional infliction of emotional distress,*fn1 all in violation of New York State law. Specifically, it is alleged that defendants breached a duty to plaintiff through negligent care and supervision of students, negligent hiring and retention, negligent training, negligent failure to implement and follow proper policies with regard to aggressive behavior at school, and negligent failure to react to incidents of teacher-student violence.

In his fourth cause of action, plaintiff alleges, as against Taylor only, that he was assaulted and battered by Taylor, in violation of New York State law.

Defendants moved for summary judgment on all causes of action pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Plaintiff opposes. Oral argument was heard on October 25, 2002, in Albany, New York. Decision was reserved.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The following facts are viewed most favorably to the nonmoving plaintiff. At all times relevant, plaintiff was a student at Albany City High School. Taylor was a gym teacher and soccer coach at Albany City High School. Metallo was Principal of Albany City High School. Palmer was Superintendent of Albany City School District.

Teachers and hall monitors at the school circulate through the corridors of the building and ask students for hall passes if they appear unauthorized. If the student is without a pass, he or she is referred to the appropriate administrator. Though it is unclear if this is a policy or rule, Metallo claims he asks teachers to stop students and look at their passes.

As plaintiff approached the opening between the two curtains, Taylor asked to see his hall pass. Plaintiff, without stopping, took a blue piece of paper out of his pocket and held it at face level for Taylor for see. Taylor grabbed plaintiff from behind by the shoulders, spun him around, and then forcefully pushed him into the nearby wall which was made of brick. Despite protests from plaintiff, Taylor continued to pin plaintiff against the brick wall, and demanded a closer look at the hall pass.*fn2 Plaintiff expressed his belief that it was inappropriate for Taylor "to touch or manhandle students." (Complaint, ¶ 32). Plaintiff may also have said that he would have Taylor "snuffed" out, and that Taylor was merely a soccer coach. Plaintiff then either managed to free himself from Taylor's grip, or the other gym teacher intervened and told him to leave. Taylor told plaintiff he would have him kicked off the track team.

Plaintiff left the school following the incident, and went to his home. He claims he did not report the incident because no one was available to receive such report, and that, in any event, he wanted to speak to his father first. After plaintiff came back to school for track practice, he saw Taylor speaking to his coach. Plaintiff approached the two, and thereafter had a meeting in the Athletic Department office. Plaintiff complained of pain in his neck and back.

In at least some instances, when corporal punishment is alleged, there is an unwritten rule that an administrator trained to fill out the proper Department of Education form is notified and the incident is reported to the school's Director of Security, Paul Petitt ("Petitt"). An investigation is then undertaken, which involves interviewing the student and accused teacher. A report is then issued. This was done in this case. ...


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