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Special Needs Student Suffers Abuse at the Hands of Elementary School Staff

Parents entrust schoolteachers and school aides with their children’s health and safety. They expect staff to protect their kids’ wellbeing and prevent physical and psychological harm. Unfortunately, not only did a school fail to meet those expectations, a school aide physically and psychologically abused a young boy with Down syndrome. Chris Keane of The Keane Law Firm represented the boy and his family against the negligent school district, attaining the justice they deserved.

While in his special needs class, the boy had an outburst that required some space away from his primary classroom. His teacher placed him in the care of a school aide, who took him to a separate room. During the episode, the aide pinned the boy face-down on the floor, straddling him with her body weight. As the struggle calmed, the aide increased her aggression. She moved the boy to a nearby sofa, laying him face-down on the cushions yet again. Then, she placed a beanbag on the boy’s back, sat on his legs, and leaned her weight on the beanbag to restrain him. The young boy pleaded with her, saying, “I can’t breathe,” to which she replied, “If you can’t breathe, you wouldn’t be able to talk.”

Shortly after the incident, another teacher noticed that the boy’s eyes were puffy, and he had red spots on his face that appeared to be a rash. The boy’s mother took him to be examined by a physician who concluded that the red spots weren’t, in fact, caused by a rash. They were petechiae — broken blood vessels on his face from the application of pressure to his chest by the aide.

Upon learning what happened to their son, his parents reached out to Chris Keane to discuss their options and next steps. After speaking with the family and fully realizing the abuse the boy endured, he decided to take the case.

Chris’s case strategy hinged on illustrating the abusiveness of the restraint rather than relying solely on the physical injury the Plaintiff sustained. Chris noted that although the law doesn’t differentiate between physical and emotional injury when valuing damages, bodily injuries tend to be the “currency” that insurance carriers and Defense attorneys use to ascribe value to the severity of abuse. With this in mind, Chris needed to show that although the boy’s physical injuries were relatively minor, they were indicative of substantial psychological and emotional abuse. Demonstrating the emotional trauma required clear visuals of the incident and its effects, which is why he reached out to DK Global for assistance.

DK Global’s team worked closely with Chris from start to finish to quickly put together a presentation for this case. The animation began with a side-by-side representation of the size differential between the Plaintiff and school aide – a vital component of the case. Weighing only 64 pounds at the time, the boy’s four-foot frame looked minuscule next to the aide, who was over a foot taller and nearly 100 pounds heavier. Next, the 3D demonstrative showed the two abusive restraints the aide put the boy in from multiple angles and distances. Then, a look inside the boy’s chest cavity revealed the pathophysiological effects of the Defendant’s actions on his spine, diaphragm, heart, and lungs, which led to the hemorrhages in his venous branches. Finally, the presentation concluded with both animated and evidentiary photos of the petechiae that the boy suffered at the hands of the Defendant.

Chris attended a lengthy mediation with the Defense. Medical specialists who evaluated the boy’s physical injuries recommended a low damages valuation. Chris shared the animation and explained how he intended to focus his damages claim on the Plaintiff’s emotional trauma. After viewing the presentation, the parties agreed to a confidential settlement hundreds of times higher than the initial assessment.

Christopher Keane, principal of The Keane Law Firm, is one of the highest rated Plaintiff's lawyers in America whose practice focuses on representing injured, abused, and deceased children. He achieved “AV Preeminient” status by Martindale-Hubbel in 2022 for both legal ethics and ability. In addition, the prestigious Lawdragon Magazine has consistently rated Chris as one of the 500 Leading Plaintiff's Lawyers in America, which noted that Keane has been "a tireless advocate for injured children" and that "Keane has collected seven-figure wins for wrongful death, amputation, cerebral palsy and more."

"I would use this sort of video in any kind of my abuse cases just to re-emphasize the event and to demonstrate to the defense and the other decision-makers exactly what happened."
Chris Keane - The Keane Law Firm
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