United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
BRIAN and DEBORAH BETZ, as Parents and Legal Guardians of I.B., a Minor, Plaintiffs,
ABBE SATTESON, SHIKELLAMY SCHOOL DISTRICT, PATRICK KELLEY, ERNIE JACKSON, and MARY MURPHY-KAHN, Defendants.
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge
might say it was a child's scooter, like a marble dropped
into a Rube Goldberg machine, which set the chain-reaction
events of this case into motion. The more cynical among us,
however, would label that a puerile retelling of events. To
those cynics, the true catalyst of misfortune was not an
innocent toy, but instead was flagrant insubordination and
unapologetic disrespect. Unfortunately for Plaintiffs, the
applicable law has as its foundation precisely that skeptical
seventh grader at Shikellamy Middle School in Sunbury,
Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, Plaintiffs' minor
son interfered with a teacher's attempt to discipline
another student. That other student had ridden a scooter down
one of the school's internal ramps shortly after
dismissal one Friday afternoon. In turn, Plaintiffs' son
stuck his arm out to hold the teacher back and shouted at his
classmate to run free. When two teachers then turned their
attention to him and requested that he accompany them to the
principal's office, he too attempted to leave the
record is uncontroverted that the boy attempted his botched
escape by ducking under one of the teacher's outstretched
arms and darting in the direction of a heavy glass door. As
might be predicted, he banged his head against the door's
metal push bar and cut his scalp. Consequently, what
otherwise was a freak accident-or perhaps a timely form of
divine retribution-has festered into a federal litigation
assigned to me.
each reader will have to decide for himself the philosophical
impetus for the young man's injuries, the legal questions
that this motion presents are not so deep. First, the record
suggests that the teacher who has been sued neither
purposefully made contact with Plaintiffs' son nor
intended him any harm. Second, even if contact was made, she
was permitted to do as much under an established doctrine
that affords teachers ample leeway to meet valid pedagogical
ends. Therefore, because no genuine disputes of material fact
remain, even when the events are viewed in the light most
favorable to the Plaintiffs, summary judgment in favor of the
Defendants is granted in full.
I.B. was a thirteen-year-old boy who suffered from
Attention Deficit Disorder, had a prior
disciplinary record, and possessed a remarkable penchant for
was a thirteen-year-old seventh grader at Shikellamy Middle
School in Sunbury, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania on
February 21, 2014-the date of the accident. He has two older
brothers and a younger sister. Both he and his sister had
been homeschooled by their mother since shortly after that
time.According to Deborah Betz, I.B.'s
mother, she made the decision to pull I.B.'s sister from
public school shortly after the accident because she
“had become increasingly agitated, started losing
sleep, crying a lot, and just saying that she was scared to
go.” Similarly, she decided to homeschool I.B.
because “I.B. is a typical boy, and sometimes he does
things that he shouldn't do.” “I only had
boys, ” Mrs. Betz said, “and all boys that I had
at that time were rambunctious. They were busy, very busy,
wanting to run and play and jump.” “Sometimes
he says things that he shouldn't do. Typical boy stuff.
You know, picking their nose or farting in class,
whatever.” “But that's one of the things
with his medication, ” she explained. “I was told
that by the doctor, that they pick, because I went to the
doctor and said, ‘Why is he picking his nose all the
time?' Why is he constantly picking at his skin?'
because he started getting rashes. And she [the doctor] said,
‘It's from the medication. It's a side effect
from the medication.'”
child is perfect. Like any “typical”
seventh-grade boy, the leading actor in this drama has
certain talents and shortcomings, certain strengths and
weaknesses, so to speak. In 2016, I.B. had reached the ninth
grade, studying Algebra II, language arts, psychology,
literature, United States history, and United States
Constitution. He completes his homeschooling lessons five
days a week, but admirably ventures to his schoolbooks at
times on the weekends if he gets bored.I.B. hopes to
attend Westchester University one day to study
psychology. His brother who attended Westchester
told him that “it's lovely
there.” His mother confirmed as much,
“He's always been one that enjoyed learning. He
will sit and watch the National Geographic all the time.
He'll get on his phone, and he'll look up facts about
ancient pyramids, and he'll say, “Mom, did you know
such and such is-?' And I'm like, ‘No.' He
always enjoyed-loves, loves, loves to
no pushover either. Quite the contrary, he is an avid
wrestler who has partaken in that sport “ever since
[he] can remember, ” even while
homeschooled.For I.B., wrestling is “the sport
that [he] love[s].” At the time of his deposition,
he wrestled at the 145-pound weight class. Wrestling
practices at Shikellamy are a grueling experience. As I.B.
recollected, those events could last hours, anywhere from
about 2:35 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., after which time, he and his
teammates might even go to Bucknell University or Shikellamy
High School and wrestle at those facilities. In fact, it
would not be uncommon for Shikellamy wrestlers like I.B. to
“roll out the mats” on a Saturday.
wants to wrestle until he graduates and continue on a club
team in college. He had a winning record during 2016,
until a broken collarbone ended his season. He also
played football as a linebacker, a safety, and an offensive
back during the third through sixth grades.
Unfortunately, I.B. suffered a concussion playing football in
the third or fourth grade in 2010 and a subsequent injury the
following year, both of which ultimately caused him to suffer
optical nerve damage and temporary blindness. According to
I.B., however, he took vitamins and grew out of the temporary
loss of sight.
young life appears to be marked by a certain lack of
inhibitions. The winter before his deposition, for instance,
I.B. also broke his toe wrestling. As I.B. recalls, someone
stole his wrestling shoes, and he did not want to miss
practice. So, he decided to wrestle barefoot, and
his toe caught got in between the mats. Because of
that injury, he missed the remainder of the wrestling
season.Next year's wrestling season was also
shortened when he broke his collarbone during a
after the accident that birthed this case, I.B. also broke
his nose when a playground friend who was swinging on a
climbing ladder inadvertently kicked him in the
face. Later on, I.B. was seen by his doctor
when his cat bit him. I.B. attempted to pick his cat up
because another wild cat was outside of the house, and when
he did, the cat bit him.
two months after the incident at the center of this case,
I.B. was also hospitalized in the emergency room to reverse
the symptoms of an apparent accidental poisoning. I.B. stated
that he believed he was drinking eggnog that his family
purchased at a local supermarket, but he woke up in the
middle of that night vomiting. When his mom asked if he drank
anything, he said he drank the eggnog in the fridge, and she
sad “What eggnog? I didn't buy
eggnog.” It turned out that I.B. had apparently
consumed some sort of body cream that was being stored in the
organized sports, I.B. is also an avid bike rider. When he
was younger, his parents bought him a used bike that they
would buy custom parts for, and he “loved that
bike.” In the summer, he would ride is bike
every day for “miles and miles.” Beyond
occasional swimming or weightlifting with friends, I.B. also
enjoys mowing the grass. He finds it “pretty
being said, a quiet mind has not always been easy for I.B. to
find. In particular, I.B. takes medication for Attention
Deficit Disorder (“ADD”). He believes
that he has had ADD since approximately the fourth
grade. In fact, I.B.'s mother explained she
gave ADD medicine to at least one other of her
boys. When he doesn't take his medication,
I.B. says, “I will talk. I'll move around. I'll
be able to like look you dead in the eyes, but I'll be
thinking of something else. Like I'll be telling myself I
need to focus, I need to focus, I need to focus, but my body
won't be focusing. It will be focusing on me telling
myself to focus.” He takes the medication every day,
except on days when wrestling matches are scheduled because
“in wrestling, you have to act. You have to do it on
instinct, ” but the medicine “just slows [him]
down.” I.B. recalls taking his ADD medication
on the date of the accident.
condition was known by school administrators. Dr. Mary
Murphy-Kahn was the principal of Shikellamy Middle School on
February 21, 2014. By virtue of her position, Dr.
Murphy-Kahn would handle student discipline. Dr.
Murphy-Kahn was well-acquainted with her students, and I.B.
was no exception. “I was [I.B.]'s principal when he
came to seventh grade, ” she explained. Dr.
Murphy-Kahn described I.B. as a “superb student”
academically. “He's an excellent
student.” On the other hand, she also noted that
the school previously had several “disciplinary issues
with him.” In fact, several of I.B.'s teachers
and administrators previously met with his parents to set up
“a behavior contract” system through which I.B.
could “earn points” by behaving respectfully:
Q. Okay. And can you describe the extent of those?
A. Prior to the incident, we had team meetings with
[I.B.'s] parents about some behavior issues in
classrooms. We had a behavior contract put into place just
prior to this, I believe.
Q. What's a behavior contract?
A. It was just to kind of outline certain behaviors that we
were seeing in the classroom to try to see if-it was a point
system. And if he had a great day, we'd give him the
points, and if he didn't, he wouldn't get certain
points in certain classes. And I don't have it in hand,
certain things like “Stay in the Seat, ” or you
know, “Wait until You're Called upon.” I
don't know if those are the exact things, but that would
be certain things that you would see.
. . .
Q. Okay. So is it fair to say that you handled these
disciplinary issues by instituting this contract, explaining
it to the student?
Q. And the parents, and then implementing some kind of point
A. Yeah. We had lots of communication at home. He
occasionally would serve detentions.
before the accident, Shikellamy Middle School had put into to
place an individualized plan for I.B. under Section 504 of
the Rehabilitation Act, as a consequence of his ADD
diagnosis. Superintendent Patrick Kelley also knew
I.B. before the accident. According to Mr. Kelley,
“I assisted . . . with an incident when he was in sixth
case does not represent the first time that I.B. (or his
parents) have been dissatisfied with the treatment they have
received during academic or extracurricular endeavors. In
fact, I.B. explained that he ultimately quit football because
it was “political.” “It's who you
know, ” as he explained. I.B. felt like the football
team “was a friends and family network, ” where
the coaches “would choose their family and friends to
be on the first string.”
I.B. explained that his parents also permitted his younger
sister to be homeschooled because “she was afraid to go
into the middle school . . . afraid of the one teacher I had
in the sixth grade.” I.B. claims to have “had
difficulty with her.” In particular, he avers that this
teacher forged his writing on an exam and thereafter altered
his grade. The teacher had gone to school with
I.B.'s parents, so they “got along with her for a
while, ” until the alleged tampering
mother has been unemployed for at least the past 15
years. During his deposition, I.B.-rather oddly
in my view-described her as “the wonderful woman who
educates me.” His father is “a landlord and a
salesman.” At times, his father will ask I.B. to do
odd jobs at the rental properties, and if he “put[s]
time and work into it, ” then his dad “will pay
to the accident, I.B. did not know any of the teachers who
were involved apart from having seen them occasionally around
the school. Teachers at Shikellamy teach in
“teams, ” and I.B.'s parents “thought
it would be best if [he] had other
I.B. interfered with a teacher's attempt to discipline
another student by holding her back with his
arm, then ducked his head down and darted toward a heavy,
glass door, bumping himself against the door's metal push
bar in the process.
statement of the law is necessary to adequately frame the
facts of this case. Federal courts within the vicinage of the
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit apply
the following four factors to determine whether a
teacher's conduct constituted excessive force:
(1) Was there a pedagogical justification for the use of
(2) Was the force utilized excessive to meet the legitimate
objective in this situation?;
(3) Was the force applied in a good faith effort to maintain
or restore discipline or maliciously and sadistically for the
very purpose of causing harm?; and
(4) Was there a serious injury?
21, 2014 was a Friday, and like most middle-schoolers, I.B.
was excited to conclude the school week at 2:35 that
afternoon. I.B. would typically walk home from
school upon his dismissal. On that day in particular, he
planned to go straight to the local YMCA with at least two
other friends, where the three would shoot hoops and lift
weights. One of the boys' parents was
scheduled to pick the group up from school and drive them
there. I.B.'s parents had previously
approved that arrangement. “Yeah, I called them. I
let them know, ” I.B. Testified.
lived within walking distance of his school, so he was used
to walking home rather than riding a school
bus. This meant that on February 21, 2014, he
was using the same exit he always used, what the parties have
called the “field house” exit. That was the exit
where people who were being picked up by cars or walking home
1. Fieldhouse Exit Lobby
I.B. went to his locker for the final time that school week,
he and his two friends began walking down the hall toward the
fieldhouse exit. At the same time, eighth-grade math teacher
Abbe Satteson caught another student (M.E.) riding a scooter.
She walked M.E. back up the hallway, so that he could leave
the school in a proper manner. The parties do not dispute
that portion of the narrative, which is corroborated by the
2. Student with Scooter Exits
3. Ms. Satteson Walks Scooter Student Back
turning around, Ms. Satteson and M.E. found themselves
directly behind I.B. and two of his friends. In the photos
below, I.B. is the student depicted in the middle of the
front row. He is wearing blue jeans and a blue long
sleeve shirt with a small embroidery on his upper left chest.
He also appears to be holding a prohibited electronic device,
such as a cell phone or media player:
4. Ms. Satteson and M.E. Turn behind I.B. and Friends
5. Close-up of I.B. Holding Electronic Device
Satteson holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics and
education from Bucknell University, as well as a master's
degree from the same institution's instructional
specialist program. She had served for thirteen years as an
eighth-grade mathematics teacher at Shikellamy Middle School
at the time of the accident.
least once a year, she recalls attending in-service programs
on strategies for dealing with students who were
“unruly or challenging.” Over the course of her
employment, the district's emphasis on dealing with
disorderly students waxed and waned. “One year that
might be a really big focus and another year maybe not so
much.” One of the biggest lessons Ms. Satteson
took from such programs was to first attempt a
non-confrontational approach. For instance, she might ask a
student, “Why is the phone out?” rather than
demanding that he “Put that cell phone
away!” Such an approach helps her to “ask
the question, rather than making the
Murphy-Kahn testified that prior to this accident, she was
not aware of (and had never received) any complaints about
Ms. Satteson, during her thirteen-year career, becoming
involved in a physical altercation with a student:
Q. Now, just so I'm clear, are you aware of any parent or
student making any complaint about Abbe Satteson either
before or after this incident?
A. Other than Mrs. Betz, grading issues.
Q. Okay. Any other complaints about physical, you know,
contact by any parent before or afterwards?
Q. And is there anything in the personnel file that reflects
that there were ever any complaints?
Q. You're saying there were no complaints about Abbe
Satteson other than maybe grades?
Kelley also recollected the same, noting that apart from run
of the mill disputes about grades to which every teacher is
subject, Ms. Satteson was a model employee and was in fact
“the best math teacher at the middle
school.” Mr. Kelley recounted the following event
that transpired at an extracurricular event:
Q. As superintendent for the school district, did you receive
any phone calls of any nature regarding Abbe Satteson?
A. It was not necessarily a phone call. I received a-a parent
approached me, and I can't think of the name now-and
actually there were a couple of them in a group at an event
that I was at that said they were very appreciative because
their child had Ms. Satteson because she was such a strong
Satteson testified that she followed policies and procedures
implemented by her building's principal Dr. Murphy
Kahn. Ms. Satteson described attending
“constant in-service[s] about different strategies to
use with students.” Those strategies included
“de-escalation, ” whereby the teacher would
attempt to “defuse the agitation.” Superintended
Kelley would then review and approve in-service topics that
building principals prepared. He was also familiar with
de-escalation strategies and ensured that his principals'
instructions embodied such tactics.
that background in mind, the below photo shows the group
progressing down the ramp toward the exit:
6. Ms. Satteson, M.E., I.B. and Friends Proceed to Lobby
the group reached the lobby, the real trouble started-or
rather, I.B. started to make trouble. As I.B. himself admits,
“we were walking, and right about where the logo is . .
. I put my arm up, and I go, ‘go [M.E.], you're
free to go!' . . . and then we
giggled.” When asked where precisely he “put
his arm up, ” I.B. clarified that he put it up
“in front of Ms. Satteson.”
his deposition, I.B. made much of the fact that he believes
no physical contact was made between his arm and Ms.
Satteson's body. That is irrelevant under the law for two
reasons. First, even a threat of force is sufficient to
trigger the teacher's right to take disciplinary
action-she need not wait for a violent student to harm
himself or others before taking action.
because the surveillance cameras captured this portion of the
incident and clearly reveal that physical contact was made,
I.B.'s explanation must be disregarded pursuant to the
decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in
Scott v. Harris. “When opposing parties tell
two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted
by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a
court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes
of ruling on a motion for summary
that the below progression clearly shows I.B. initiating
physical contact with Ms. Satteson by holding her back with
his left arm. It also shows him bending his body in an
angular fashion and throwing the weight of his hips and his
body against her so as to block her from reaching the exit.
I.B. also appears to be using an electronic device in his
right hand throughout the entirety of the altercation. I.B.
and Ms. Satteson are depicted at the far left side of the
images- Ms. Satteson wearing an olive jacket, and I.B.
wearing a royal blue long sleeve shirt:
Figure 7. Progression: I.B. Blocks Ms. Satteson
lifted his arm and blocked Ms. Satteson, he admits that he
exclaimed “Go! Go! You're free to
go!” According to I.B., “I put my arm
up, ” told my classmate to run, “and then we
giggled.” Counsel for Defendants asked I.B. why
exactly he put his arm up to Ms. Satteson:
Q. You lifted your hand 90 degrees.
Q. And that was to block Ms. Satteson?
A. No. I was not blocking her. I wasn't stopping her.
Q. Why did you put your arm up?
A. As a joke.
Q. And you said “Go! You're free!”?
asked whether he told the boy on the scooter that he would
hold Ms. Satteson back, I.B. stated that he could not recall:
Q. Abbe Satteson recalls you saying, “Ride it now!
I'll hold her back! Go ahead, ride it!” Did you say
A. No. I don't recall.
Q. You don't recall?
A. I don't recall me saying that all.
Q. Well, either you didn't say it, or you don't
A. I don't recall. I'm almost positive-I can't
say that either. No. I didn't say it.
Q. You didn't?
examined as to whether, during the course of this
altercation, he had broken any school rules (in addition to
physically contacting Ms. Satteson), I.B. openly admitted
that he had, because he did not have permission to exit the
building when he attempted to do so:
Q. Did you feel the words that you said constituted a threat
to Ms. Satteson by holding up your arm?
A. Like a life-threatening threat?
Q. Just a threat. It doesn't have to be life-threatening.
Just a threat.
A. Not really because I was not using any force to-I
didn't even touch her. Like I didn't even hold her
back physically. I didn't even stop walking. We kept
Q. Well, one of the-in Level 2, one of the rules of conduct
is insubordination, failure to follow instructions. Now you
were asked to go to the principal's office and you
A. She asked if I needed to go to the principal's office.
Q. I thought- A. Ms. Satteson said do you need-asked do you
need to go to the office. I said no, but can I go? Then she
asked I don't know. I think we need to go to the office.
Q. Okay. And Ms. Knopp said you need to go to the office; did
A. Yeah. I'm pretty sure.
Q. And you refused?
Q. Okay. So would you agree with me that that was a failure
on your part to follow instructions?
Q. Would you also agree that you left school without
A. No. We had permission.
Q. Well, you didn't have permission from two teachers.
A. Well, at the end of the day, we have permission to leave.
Q. I thought you said a teacher can-after the school bell
goes off, a teacher can take a student down to the
principal's office if inappropriate conduct is done while
walking through the hallways?
A. They can't stop you from leaving the building.
That's what I believed.
Q. And one of the levels is unacceptable language. Obviously,
you were in violation of that rule.
A. That was after the incident.
. . .
Q. Okay. Then why didn't you just go down to the first
door? You had no obstruction at that time. Didn't you
have a choice to go out the first door there, as opposed to
walking under her?
A. No, because as Ms. Knopp stated yesterday, there was a
constant flow of students going to her left, that is, to her
left, going out that door. The doors were occupied. That was
the closest door. That was my first intent, to escape.
Q. But as opposed to walking under her arm, you could have
easily went to the first door; correct? That's all
A. May I explain it?
A. If there's a fire in the building would you run to
that escape, or try to exit through that door, the gate, and
then another door, and then the other door? Would you not
rather just go through one set of doors?
Q. Well, there wasn't a fire in the building.
A. No, but what I'm comparing the fire to is Ms. Satteson
and the teachers. The teachers are cornering me, and I'm
trying to get out. I'm trying to move. I'm trying to
Q. And they told you not to leave; correct?
A. They didn't tell me not to leave. They said do we need
to go to the office? I think we need to go the office. They
did not say I cannot leave.
Q. I thought they said they're taking you to the office?
A. That's not stating that I'm not allowed to leave.
I just-I was uncomfortable. I had to leave. My ride was
Q. All right. Are you saying you had permission to leave from
those teachers then?
A. No. I did not have permission.
After I.B. held up his arm to block Ms. Satteson, she
confronted him at the doorway and barred his passage from the
school. The video surveillance still appears to show I.B.
holding an electronic device in his right hand against his
8. Ms. Satteson Confronts I.B.
the parties dispute little about this first portion of the
encounter, I.B. having acknowledged full well that he did not
have permission to leave at that time. When asked why she
confronted I.B., Ms. Satteson explained, with a remarkably
keen grasp of the core problem, as follows:
Q. Let me stop for you just a second. At this point in time,
what had I.B. said to you, and what had you said, if anything
back to him?
A. He had said to the student that he should take his scooter
and ride it, and he-that I.B. would hold me back. And
basically I.B. and I, I don't think, had much interaction
other than for me to say, you know, it's not okay to tell
another student do something that's against the rules.
It's not okay to do that in the real world, and it's
not okay to do it at school. And he didn't seem to
understand that, and I was trying to help him to understand
that. As an educator we find ourselves sometimes trying to
educate rather than just, you know-so, it's not thing
. . .
It seemed like more fair to help him to understand that it
wasn't okay to do that. So then he walked away. He
didn't want to hear what I had to say. He walked away.
And then Mrs. Knopp-I don't know if he just-well, I
guess, yeah, he went to the door where she was standing. And
so then she talked to him for a little bit.
Satteson's testimony hints, I.B. completely rebuffed her
and began walking toward another exit. This was confirmed by
the video surveillance. He still appears to be holding an
electronic device resembling a cell phone to his ear during
the entirety of the encounter:
9. Progression: I.B. Attempts to Exit from Another Door
was unable to exit through that door, however, because he was
headed off by another teacher, Ms. Jessica Knopp:
10: I.B. Is Met by Ms. Knopp at the Third Door
record, Ms. Knopp is not a named Defendant. When asked to
explain why she confronted I.B. and did not let him leave,
she testified as follows:
Q. The question is just to describe in chronological order
what you experienced on that day.
A. There was a constant flow of students coming out to my
left when I heard something to the effect of “Go ahead
and ride it, I'll hold her back, ” to which I
turned around and saw the scooter student and I.B., and Ms.
Satteson, kind of walking in front of him a little bit, said,
“This is not appropriate.” He then came around
the doors to what would be my right. . . . I turned around
and said something to the effect of, “This is not
appropriate, this could be seen as a threat, you cannot talk
to a teacher this way.” And I said, “I think you
need to apologize to her, ” and he made some reply of
“I'm sorry.” I said, “For what?”
He said he didn't know. I said “For what you said.
And if you can't remember, we should go to the office,
” and then [he] ducked under Ms. Satteson's arm.
She was holding it open in the way pictured in [Exhibits] 1I
and 1J. Ducked under, quite forcefully hit his head, walked
several yards out to the middle ground marker on 1J, the
second pavement cement there. Held his head, walked back in,
used some profanity to which I said, “Please watch your
language.” Then I saw the blood, and Ms. Satteson took
him directly to the nurse.
below picture show Ms. Satteson joining I.B. and Ms. Knopp at
the third set of doors:
11. Ms. Satteson Joins Ms. Knopp at the Third Door
I.B. attempted to evade the teachers by walking back in the
direction of the second set of exterior doors. Ms. Satteson
followed him down the vestibule:
12. I.B. Attempts to Exit from Another Door
point, the pair is out of view of the cameras, at which time
I.B. apparently ducks his head and is injured when he darts
toward the door:
13. Out of View
footage then shows I.B. returning inside, holding his head,
with Ms. Satteson accompanying him to the nurse's office:
14. I.B. Returns Inside
15. Progression: Ms. Satteson Accompanies I.B. to the
asked to describe the incident, I.B. testified as follows,
admitting that he ducked his head toward the ground and was
not even looking at Ms. Satteson when he darted underneath
her arm and toward the door:
Q. As I understand it you were trying to go under Ms.
Q. And how did you do that?
A. I just ducked my head.
. . .
Q. That's what I thought. So when you ducked down, you
actually could see straight ahead?
A. No. I as looking at the ground.
Q. You were looking at the ground?
Q. Then did you make-what did you make contact [with] first-
A. What did my body make contact with?
Q. Yeah. You had contact with something. What was your first
A. Her elbow hit my back of my shoulder blades.
Q. Back of the shoulder blades?
A. Towards the back of my neck, yes.
Q. Towards the back of your neck?
A. Her hip came into-well, her lats and stuff came into my
shoulder, and she would have pushed me down into the door.
Q. So you're saying her left elbow would have pushed
A. Her right elbow.
Q. Right elbow made contact with what part of your body?
A. My shoulder blades, right back of my neck.
Q. Your left shoulder blade?
A. I can't recall which shoulder blade. It would have
been around right in the middle of the back.
Q. Right in the middle of the back, like right upper back?
Q. And then what else? What other contact was made?
A. She pushed her hips or her body into me to try and stop
me, I guess. I don't know what she was trying to do.
Q. Her hips came in contact with what part of your body?
A. It wasn't necessarily her hips. It was the hipping
motion she used. But it was the side of her ribcage that came
in contact with my shoulders.
Q. Okay. So it was her ribcage that came in contact with your
Q. And that would be your left shoulder?
A. That would be my right. Her right elbow in my-.
Q. Did you actually feel any impact from the door?
A. No. My whole side of my head.
Q. You didn't feel the impact at all to the door?
A. My whole left side of my face went numb and a jolt went
down my back. And I felt a slight pinch at the top of my
head, and when I reached up and I pulled down, I felt all the
blood, and it was warm.
. . .
Q. And was [sic] there any words exchanged? I know
you used profanities but did she say anything?
A. I yelled, “My head, my fucking head! It hurts so
bad!” And I said, “Look what you did!” And
she said-and I heard someone scream behind me that-I mean,
like yell, “Watch your language!” and then I
heard her, her exact voice saying, “You brought this
view, I.B.'s recounting of events, even taken in the
light most favorable to him, is quite blurred and imprecise.
It does not, for instance, suggest the level of force that
Ms. Satteson used. It does not even suggest that she intended
any contact whatsoever. The above recollection is just as
akin to an accidental contact as it is a willful one, likely
indicating that Plaintiffs have simply not put forth
sufficient facts into the record creating a genuine dispute
of material fact on the issue of intent. Were I to conclude
otherwise, every schoolyard bump or bruise would be
sufficient to survive summary judgment and make it to a jury
trial in federal court on excessive force grounds. That
simply cannot be.
even considering I.B.'s testimony in conjunction with
that of all of the other eyewitnesses, I must conclude that
Plaintiffs have still failed to adduce sufficient evidence to
create a genuine issue of material fact. For instance, Ms.
Satteson testified as follows:
Q. Okay. So you're in the doorway, then what happens?
A. I walked away from Mrs. Knopp. I think Mrs. Knopp told him
that she thought he should go to the office so he could
straighten things out. And he walked away from her and-
Q. In which direction?
A. Well, if-he would have been in the doorway to the foyer or
whatever. He obviously came this way (indicating). And for
some reason, with all the doors that he could have chosen to
go outside, he chose to go out the door that I was holding
open. And he ducked to go under my arm.
This is [Exhibit] 1G. He ducked to go under my arm and
somehow banged against the door. These doors are really
heavy. Knocked the door, so that it bounced back and hit my
elbow, and obviously caused his head to bleed.
Q. Okay. Did you make any physical contact with I.B. as he
banged into the door?
A. I do not think that our bodies touched in any way.
Q. Okay. So it's your testimony that you didn't touch
I.B. at any point during this entire interaction?
A. Not that I recall.
Q. Okay. Did I.B. indicate that he was attempting or trying
to go through the door that you were-?
A. It was odd. He walked, stopped, and ducked. I don't
know. I mean, I don't know how else to describe it.
A. It was very fast.
Q. Was he using a walking pace as he entered the door?
A. He was bent over when he went through the door with his
A. To go under my arm presumably.
Q. Okay. And how low did he have to bend down to get under
A. Well, how high is my arm? Three feet? I don't know.
Q. Okay. But it's your testimony that you were holding
the door open and-. [Exhibit] 1G, you would have been holding
the door open that way; correct?
Ms. Knopp testified as follows regarding the incident:
Q. Now, you then became aware that there was something
occurring behind you?
Q. And what alerted you to that?
A. Like I said previously, I heard the words go ahead, ride
it, I'll hold her back. That's what alerted me were
those words, which concerned me.
Q. You indicated those words concerned you. What concerned
you about those words?
A. It sounded threatening to me. If I may say, I've had
students use similar words to me, and I find that threatening
to myself as a teacher and to other teachers. Being held
back, a student making the . . . assumption that they're
going to put their hands on another teacher concerns me.
. . .
Q. And I believe your testimony is that you considered it a
threat because of what he actually said?
Q. All right. Was his voice raised at the time that he said
A. It was loud enough that I could hear it between outside-.
I would say that I'm looking at picture 1G. I would say
that he would probably be around the emblem at this time as
far as my recollection serves. And I was out here with
students constantly flowing past. I can't say as to the
volume, but it was loud enough that I could hear it clearly.
Q. And then I believe you indicated that you heard this and
so you turned around?
. . .
Q. What do you recall as I.B. approached her? And take your
time and be as specific as you can.
A. I recall her having the door open, him saying he
wasn't going to the office. How I feel was that he
forcefully ducked and rammed through the door underneath her
arm. Where he was, the door slightly moved, came back, got
her, and he walked farther on. That's what I can give
. . .
Q. I believe you testified that there was no actual impact
between either I.B. or Mrs. Satteson?
Right. Yes, I wouldn't say he rammed into her. It's
just the action that it reminds of.
eyewitness, Cody Bordner, offered his testimony of the
accident. Mr. Bordner was a graduate of Shikellamy High
School and had been serving as a volunteer track coach at the
time. Mr. Bordner was standing in the bottom
right-hand corner of the lobby, waiting for track practice to
commence, and what caught his attention was a middle schooler
riding a scooter down the exit ramp: “I was like oh
boy, here we go.” Mr. Bordner continued on:
A. And then what kind of brought my attention back then, I
had heard a boy say, “I'll block her, you ride the
scooter!” So, he kind of blocked her. He got in front
of her, and the boy on the scooter, and the other boy that
was with him kind of went off to the side, and that's
basically all I remember of those two boys. And then from
what I remember the rest then, Ms. Satteson was-the boy had
started walking down the ramp then and Ms. Satteson came and
kind of got back in front her again or got back in front of
him again. I apologize. And he kind of-the boy kind of
proceeded to just keep going off to the side like to get
around her. So this kind of went on for a little bit of him
getting around her until probably standing right about in
here in the lobby. So they were standing right about in the
Shikellamy logo here.
. . .
So yeah. They're standing probably right there at the
time. And this is right around the time that Mrs. Knopp came
over. So Mrs. Knopp just came into the scene because he
didn't really seem to be respecting. He kept trying to
get around her. He didn't really appear to be listening
to what she was trying to tell him. And she just kept telling
him to stop, and he wasn't stopping. He kept trying to go
around. So, Mrs. Knopp came over and said, “Hey,
she's a teacher, you're going to show her respect,
and you're going to give her an apology. You're not
going to talk to her like that.” And I would say that
at this point still, he-a lot of respect wasn't being
shown. So, they said at this point, “We're going to
go to the office.” And he didn't go to the office
with them. He was still-he made his way around to get away
from them again.
And now they're probably directly right in front of the
doorway here. So at that point, Mrs. Satteson was
standing-this is like a perfect representation of how she was
standing at the first door, not the second door like in this
one. So she's kind of standing there with the door
propped open like this.
. . .
So she was standing like this just at the inner door. Yeah.
And at this point, they were all still saying like, “We
need to go to the office.” And at this point, he ducked
down. So he lowers his head and ducks and goes right
underneath her arm. And he just went right under, so then
that would have been, they would have been going towards the
second doors there then. Probably about 30 seconds later, I
saw him come back in bleeding and swearing. He was swearing
pretty good. And that's what I saw.
student eyewitness testified as follows:
Q. And what do you recall hearing or observing at that time?
A. I remember looking at-the kid had a-there was a kid that
had a scooter.
A. And he was swearing I remember that And he was riding the
scooter, I'm pretty sure. And Ms. Satteson was telling
him to like stop, because obviously you don't ride a
scooter in school.
A. And I remember the kid had a friend with him. There was a
kid with-there were two kids together that were-and the kid
without the scooter was telling the kid with the scooter,
like, “Come on, let's get out of here!”
Because I think Ms. Satteson wanted to bring the kid back in
for consultation or something because he shouldn't be
riding a scooter.
A. So his friend was trying to get him-like egg on, like,
“Come on, let's just ditch her and get of
here!” And I can't remember if this kid was on the
scooter at this point. I remember them trying to make a break
for the door, though. And Ms. Satteson, trying to stop them
from getting out the door, got in front of them.
A. And at this point they were exiting probably though the
first set of doors and stepping into the carpeted area. And
the kids then were going to try to exit the second set of
A. And I think the door got opened initially by the kid with
the scooter, I think. And Ms. Satteson, trying to stop him
Q. That's the kid that was with the kid with the scooter?
A. The kid with the scooter. I think I.B. is his name. He
tried to- he opened the door, like making like he was going
A. And Ms. Satteson tried to stop him from leaving, I think,
just put her arm on the door naturally as she was in front of
. . .
A. And I think the kid tried to duck under her arm, which was
on the door, hitting her arm. So it collapses her arm and
then her arm wasn't on the door anymore, so the door came
shut. And it hit the kid on the head.
student eyewitness testified a follows:
Q. It's two years ago. I don't expect you to. So you
don't recall, but where was she located in front of the
door? And it was the inner door. Was she still in the
foyer/lobby area or was she at the door?
A. I think when we first saw them, they were still in the
foyer, in front of those two doors.
Q. The two middle doors?
Q. And what happened? You tell me, what happened?
A. I think I.B. tried to leave, and they weren't done
talking to him, so Ms. McLaughlin [sic] blocked one door and
Ms. Satteson blocked the other door and put her hand up. And
when he went under it, I think when he came up, he smacked
his head and that's how he-.
student eyewitness testified as follows:
Q. And you could actually see them through the glass?
Q. But you heard them yelling?
A. Yes. I believe this door was open or one of these doors
were [sic] open. I'm not sure.
Q. The interior doors?
Q. And the third set of doors, interior doors, were closed
but you could still hear them?
Q. Do you know what they were saying?
Q. And you don't know why he was being scolded or ...