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Betz v. Statteson

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 25, 2017

BRIAN and DEBORAH BETZ, as Parents and Legal Guardians of I.B., a Minor, Plaintiffs,
v.
ABBE SATTESON, SHIKELLAMY SCHOOL DISTRICT, PATRICK KELLEY, ERNIE JACKSON, and MARY MURPHY-KAHN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge

         Some 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 view.

         While a 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 building.

         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.

         Though 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. BACKGROUND

         A. 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 injuring himself.

         I.B. 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.[1] 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.[2]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.”[3] Similarly, she decided to homeschool I.B. because “I.B. is a typical boy, and sometimes he does things that he shouldn't do.”[4] “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.”[5] “Sometimes he says things that he shouldn't do. Typical boy stuff. You know, picking their nose or farting in class, whatever.”[6] “But that's one of the things with his medication, ” she explained.[7] “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.'”[8]

         No 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.[9]I.B. hopes to attend Westchester University one day to study psychology.[10] His brother who attended Westchester told him that “it's lovely there.”[11] 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 learn.”[12]

         I.B. is 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.[13]For I.B., wrestling is “the sport that [he] love[s].”[14] At the time of his deposition, he wrestled at the 145-pound weight class.[15] 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.[16] In fact, it would not be uncommon for Shikellamy wrestlers like I.B. to “roll out the mats” on a Saturday.[17]

         I.B. wants to wrestle until he graduates and continue on a club team in college.[18] He had a winning record during 2016, until a broken collarbone ended his season.[19] He also played football as a linebacker, a safety, and an offensive back during the third through sixth grades.[20] 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.[21] According to I.B., however, he took vitamins and grew out of the temporary loss of sight.[22]

         I.B.'s 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.[23] As I.B. recalls, someone stole his wrestling shoes, and he did not want to miss practice.[24] So, he decided to wrestle barefoot, and his toe caught got in between the mats.[25] Because of that injury, he missed the remainder of the wrestling season.[26]Next year's wrestling season was also shortened when he broke his collarbone during a match.[27]

         Shortly 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.[28] Later on, I.B. was seen by his doctor when his cat bit him.[29] 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.[30]

         Approximately 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.[31] 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.”[32] It turned out that I.B. had apparently consumed some sort of body cream that was being stored in the fridge.[33]

         Besides 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.”[34] In the summer, he would ride is bike every day for “miles and miles.”[35] Beyond occasional swimming or weightlifting with friends, I.B. also enjoys mowing the grass. He finds it “pretty peaceful.”[36]

         That 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”).[37] He believes that he has had ADD since approximately the fourth grade.[38] In fact, I.B.'s mother explained she gave ADD medicine to at least one other of her boys.[39] 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.”[40] 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.”[41] I.B. recalls taking his ADD medication on the date of the accident.[42]

         I.B.'s condition was known by school administrators. Dr. Mary Murphy-Kahn was the principal of Shikellamy Middle School on February 21, 2014.[43] By virtue of her position, Dr. Murphy-Kahn would handle student discipline.[44] 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.[45] Dr. Murphy-Kahn described I.B. as a “superb student” academically.[46] “He's an excellent student.”[47] On the other hand, she also noted that the school previously had several “disciplinary issues with him.”[48] 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?
A. Yes.
Q. And the parents, and then implementing some kind of point system for-?
A. Yeah. We had lots of communication at home. He occasionally would serve detentions.[49]

         Well 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.[50] Superintendent Patrick Kelley also knew I.B. before the accident.[51] According to Mr. Kelley, “I assisted . . . with an incident when he was in sixth grade.”[52]

         This 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.”[53] “It's who you know, ” as he explained.[54] 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.”[55]

         Likewise, 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.”[56] 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.[57] The teacher had gone to school with I.B.'s parents, so they “got along with her for a while, ” until the alleged tampering occurred.[58]

         I.B.'s mother has been unemployed for at least the past 15 years.[59] During his deposition, I.B.-rather oddly in my view-described her as “the wonderful woman who educates me.”[60] His father is “a landlord and a salesman.”[61] 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 [him] good.”[62]

         Prior to the accident, I.B. did not know any of the teachers who were involved apart from having seen them occasionally around the school.[63] Teachers at Shikellamy teach in “teams, ” and I.B.'s parents “thought it would be best if [he] had other teachers.”[64]

         B. 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.

         A brief 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 force?;
(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?[65]

         February 21, 2014 was a Friday, and like most middle-schoolers, I.B. was excited to conclude the school week at 2:35 that afternoon.[66] I.B. would typically walk home from school upon his dismissal.[67] 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.[68] One of the boys' parents was scheduled to pick the group up from school and drive them there.[69] I.B.'s parents had previously approved that arrangement.[70] “Yeah, I called them. I let them know, ” I.B. Testified.

         I.B. lived within walking distance of his school, so he was used to walking home rather than riding a school bus.[71] 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 would leave.[72]

         Figure 1. Fieldhouse Exit Lobby[73]

         (Image Omitted)

         After 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 images below[74]:

         Figure 2. Student with Scooter Exits

         (Image Omitted)

         Figure 3. Ms. Satteson Walks Scooter Student Back

         (Image Omitted)

         Upon 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.[75] 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:

         Figure 4. Ms. Satteson and M.E. Turn behind I.B. and Friends

         (Image Omitted)

         Figure 5. Close-up of I.B. Holding Electronic Device

         (Image Omitted)

         Ms. 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.[76] She had served for thirteen years as an eighth-grade mathematics teacher at Shikellamy Middle School at the time of the accident.[77]

         At least once a year, she recalls attending in-service programs on strategies for dealing with students who were “unruly or challenging.”[78] Over the course of her employment, the district's emphasis on dealing with disorderly students waxed and waned.[79] “One year that might be a really big focus and another year maybe not so much.”[80] 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!”[81] Such an approach helps her to “ask the question, rather than making the accusation.”[82]

         Dr. 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?
A. No.
Q. And is there anything in the personnel file that reflects that there were ever any complaints?
A. No.
Q. You're saying there were no complaints about Abbe Satteson other than maybe grades?
A. Correct.[83]

         Superintendent 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.”[84] 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 math teacher.[85]

         Ms. Satteson testified that she followed policies and procedures implemented by her building's principal Dr. Murphy Kahn.[86] Ms. Satteson described attending “constant in-service[s] about different strategies to use with students.”[87] Those strategies included “de-escalation, ” whereby the teacher would attempt to “defuse the agitation.”[88] Superintended Kelley would then review and approve in-service topics that building principals prepared.[89] He was also familiar with de-escalation strategies and ensured that his principals' instructions embodied such tactics.[90]

         With that background in mind, the below photo shows the group progressing down the ramp toward the exit:

         Figure 6. Ms. Satteson, M.E., I.B. and Friends Proceed to Lobby

         (Image Omitted)

         When 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.”[91] When asked where precisely he “put his arm up, ” I.B. clarified that he put it up “in front of Ms. Satteson.”[92]

         During 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.[93]

         Second, 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 judgment.”[94]

         I find 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
(Image Omitted)

         As I.B. lifted his arm and blocked Ms. Satteson, he admits that he exclaimed “Go! Go! You're free to go!”[95] According to I.B., “I put my arm up, ” told my classmate to run, “and then we giggled.”[96] Counsel for Defendants asked I.B. why exactly he put his arm up to Ms. Satteson:

Q. You lifted your hand 90 degrees.
A. Yeah
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!”?
A. Yeah.[97]

         When 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 that?
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 recall.
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?
A. No.[98]

         When 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 walking.
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 didn't; correct?
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 she not?
A. Yeah. I'm pretty sure.
Q. And you refused?
A. Yeah.
Q. Okay. So would you agree with me that that was a failure on your part to follow instructions?
A. Yeah.
Q. Would you also agree that you left school without permission?
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 I'm asking.
A. May I explain it?
Q. Sure.
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 get away.
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 there.
Q. All right. Are you saying you had permission to leave from those teachers then?
A. No. I did not have permission.[99]
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 ear:

         Figure 8. Ms. Satteson Confronts I.B.

         (Image Omitted)

         Again, 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 right 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.[100]

         As Ms. 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:

         Figure 9. Progression: I.B. Attempts to Exit from Another Door

         (Image Omitted)

         I.B. was unable to exit through that door, however, because he was headed off by another teacher, Ms. Jessica Knopp:

         Figure 10: I.B. Is Met by Ms. Knopp at the Third Door

         (Image Omitted)

         For the 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.[101]

         The below picture show Ms. Satteson joining I.B. and Ms. Knopp at the third set of doors:

         Figure 11. Ms. Satteson Joins Ms. Knopp at the Third Door

         (Image Omitted)

         Again, 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:

         Figure 12. I.B. Attempts to Exit from Another Door

         (Image Omitted)

         At that 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:

         Figure 13. Out of View

         (Image Omitted)

         The footage then shows I.B. returning inside, holding his head, with Ms. Satteson accompanying him to the nurse's office:

         Figure 14. I.B. Returns Inside

         (Image Omitted)

         Figure 15. Progression: Ms. Satteson Accompanies I.B. to the Nurse's Office

         (Image Omitted)

         When 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. Satteson's arm?
A. Yes.
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?
A. Yeah.
Q. Then did you make-what did you make contact [with] first- with what?
A. What did my body make contact with?
Q. Yeah. You had contact with something. What was your first contact?
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 you-?
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?
A. Exactly.
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 shoulders?
A. Yeah.
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 onto yourself.”[102]

         In my 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.

         Moreover, 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.
Q. Okay.
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 head down.
Q. Okay.
A. To go under my arm presumably.
Q. Okay. And how low did he have to bend down to get under your arm?
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?
A. Yes.[103]

         Similarly, Ms. Knopp testified as follows regarding the incident:

Q. Now, you then became aware that there was something occurring behind you?
A. Yes.
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?
A. Yes.
Q. All right. Was his voice raised at the time that he said it?
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?
A. Yes.
. . .
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 you.
. . .
Q. I believe you testified that there was no actual impact between either I.B. or Mrs. Satteson?

         A. Right. Yes, I wouldn't say he rammed into her. It's just the action that it reminds of.[104]

         Another 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.[105] 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.”[106] 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.[107]

         A 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.
Q. Right.
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.
Q. Right.
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.
Q. Right.
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.
Q. Right.
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 doors.
Q. Right.
A. And I think the door got opened initially by the kid with the scooter, I think. And Ms. Satteson, trying to stop him from leaving-.
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 to leave.
Q. Right.
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 him.
. . .
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.[108]

         Another 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?
A. Yeah.
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-.[109]

         Another student eyewitness testified as follows:

Q. And you could actually see them through the glass?
A. Yes.
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?
A. Yes.
Q. And the third set of doors, interior doors, were closed but you could still hear them?
A. Yes.
Q. Do you know what they were saying?
A. No.
Q. And you don't know why he was being scolded or ...

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