United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
AIDAN S., BY AND THROUGH PARENT AND NATURAL GUARDIAN CRYSTAL WINTERBOTTOM, AND CRYSTAL WINTERBOTTOM IN HER OWN RIGHT
ARGIE FAFALIOS, SABOLD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, AND SPRINGFIELD SCHOOL DISTRICT
are suing over a teacher's alleged persistent bullying of
Aidan S., a minor student with special needs. That bullying
allegedly culminated in, but did not conclude with, a violent
attack against him. Plaintiffs also allege that other school
officials and employees handled the aftermath of the attack
inappropriately. The Amended Complaint names the teacher, the
school, and the school district as defendants.
the Court now is the defendant teacher's partial motion
to dismiss. The motion asks the Court to dismiss several of
the Amended Complaint's counts and narrow others. For the
reasons given below, the Court will GRANT the partial motion
in its entirety.
Factual and Procedural History
S. is an elementary-school student at Sabold Elementary
School in Springfield School District. Am. Compl.
¶¶ 1, 3, 32. In early 2017, he was in the third
grade. Id. ¶ 32. His co-plaintiff, Crystal
Winterbottom, is his mother. Id. ¶ 1. Aidan has
special needs, and has an Individualized Education Plan
(“IEP”). Id. ¶ 32. His special
needs and the contents of his IEP are not specified.
First Amended Complaint alleges in relevant part that
Aidan's art teacher, Argie Fafalios, engaged in a pattern
of “bullying and targeting” Aidan. Id.
¶ 52. That escalated one day in early 2017. Id.
¶ 32. That day, after class was over and as Aidan was
leaving the classroom, she called out to him and instructed
him to come back. Id. ¶ 35. After he came back,
she told him to return his “bookmark project to the art
room barking at him that ‘she would be the one to
decide if you take that home or not . . . .'”
Id. ¶ 36. As he “attempted to determine
where to place his bookmark, ” she attacked him from
behind without warning. Id. ¶¶ 33, 37.
Specifically, she grabbed his upper arms and shoulders and
“forced him down onto the ground.” Id.
¶¶ 38, 71. While attacking him, she screamed
“You are ruining my life.” Id.
¶¶ 33, 71. A nearby student “implored him to
pick himself up and run, ” which he did. Id.
¶¶ 38-39. Even after Aidan returned to the school,
there was a minor incident where she called out to him to
come over to her while he was in the hallway. Id.
¶ 55. Since the attack, Aidan S. has needed
“medical and psychological attention for his fear,
anxiety and fright.” Id. ¶ 60. Also,
following the attack, the principal removed Aidan S. from art
class. Id. ¶ 62. The school principal later
reported to Winterbottom that he interviewed Fafalios and she
confirmed that she “did in fact wrongfully put her
hands on Aidan S.” Id. ¶ 59. Plaintiffs
also claim that the principal, school nurse and
Plaintiff's homeroom teacher did not do enough to comfort
and protect Aidan in the aftermath of the attack.
Id. ¶¶ 39- 42. There has been one further
possible bullying incident since the attack. Id.
filed suit against Fafalios, the school district, and the
school on January 17, 2019. ECF 1. Plaintiffs filed an
amended complaint on September 4, 2019. ECF 18. Fafalios
moved to dismiss or narrow some of their claims on September
24, 2019. ECF 19. Plaintiffs responded on October 28, 2019.
ECF 21. Fafalios did not reply. As yet, the remaining
Defendants have not answered or moved for dismissal.
causes of action directed against Fafalios in the Amended
Complaint are as follows:
I. Section 1983: Excessive Use of Force
II. Intentional Infliction of Mental Distress
III. Negligent Infliction of Mental Distress
IV. Punitive Damages
V. Assault and Battery and Intentional Infliction of
VI. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
VII. Monell Liability
VIII. Section 1983: Violation of Plaintiff's 4th and 14th
IX. Failure to Supervise
objections to certain of these claims, and one claim not
explicitly laid out as a count in the complaint, are
discussed in more detail below.