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Mother Files Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit Against Pinellas School Because Daughter is Traumatized by Handcuff Incident

In Florida, a woman whose now 8-year-old daughter was handcuffed by police in 2005 when she had a tantrum as a kindergartener is suing the Pinellas County School Board and Fairmount Park Elementary for personal injury to a minor. The plaintiff, 27-year-old Inga Akins, says the girl is severely traumatized over the incident and is expected to undergo long-term therapy. Video footage shows the former St. Petersburg kindergartener in the classroom while making a mess, stepping on a desk, and punching assistant principal Nicole DiBenedetto. St. Petersburg cops are also seen telling the girl to calm down. By this time, however, the girl, then 5, suddenly becomes quiet and sits at the assistant principal’s table. Yet three cops reportedly stood her up, placed her hands behind her back, and put handcuffs on her wrists. The girl is seen screaming. She was placed in the back of a police car until the State Attorney’s Office told police that they would never prosecute a 5-year-old. The girl was then released to her mother. Akins’s Florida personal injury lawsuit accuses the defendants of malicious prosecution, negligence, violating her daughter’s civil rights, failing to have the proper procedures instituted for dealing with disciplinary issues, and inadequately training school staffers to deal with such incidents. The complaint also says that the school should have taken steps to calm down the former kindergartener, rather than leaving her with the assistant principal, who she was scared of because of another incident that occurred that year. Akins had reportedly complained to the school that she didn’t like the way the assistant principal dealt with her daughter and found her to be too harsh. Police had been called to the school to deal with her daughter’s behavior at least once before. Florida schools are supposed to make sure that the students placed in their care are not harmed in any way. This includes making sure that systems are in place to keep children safe, properly training teachers and other staffers to deal with those placed under their charge, and making sure there is adequate security on the premise so that no one can assault or inflict any other kind of harm on the school kids. Failure to exercise these duties of care can be grounds for a Florida personal injury lawsuit. A premises liability claim might also be made if there were unsafe or hazardous conditions on the school property, such as toxic substances, defective playground equipment, electrical hazards, or other dangers that could cause injury or death to a student. Lawsuit filed over 2005 Pinellas school handcuff incident, Sun-Times News Group, March 31, 2009 Related Web Resources: Pinellas County School Board

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