DONALD STEFFAN, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE JEFFERSON COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION AND THE SECURITY OFFICER AT FARNSLEY MIDDLE SCHOOL APPELLANT
TEVIN SMYZER, BY AND THROUGH HIS NATURAL PARENT AND NEXT FRIEND, TEVIS RANKINS APPELLEE
FROM JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE ANN BAILEY SMITH,
JUDGE ACTION NO. 14-CI-004978
FOR APPELLANT: Byron Edward Leet Ekundayo Seton Louisville,
FOR APPELLEE: Michael L. Goodwin Brandon Lawrence Louisville,
BEFORE: ACREE, DIXON AND STUMBO,  JUDGES.
OPINION AND ORDER
L. DIXON JUDGE.
Donald Steffan in his individual capacity as an employee of
the Jefferson County Board of Education, appeals from an
opinion and order of the Jefferson Circuit Court denying his
motion for summary judgment based on immunity under the Paul
D. Coverdell Teacher Liability Protection Act of 2001, 20
U.S.C.A. §§ 6731-6738. We conclude that the trial
court's order was interlocutory in nature and, as such,
Appellant's appeal must be dismissed.
is an in-school security monitor at Farnsley Middle School,
which is a part of the Jefferson County Public School system.
On September 26, 2013, Appellant received a call for
assistance from one of the school's substitute teachers,
Mr. Garrison, who was teaching Appellee, Tevin Smyzer's,
sixth-grade class that day. When Appellant entered the
classroom, Mr. Garrison handed him a referral slip and asked
that he take Appellee out of the classroom. Appellant walked
to Appellee's desk and asked him to get up from his seat.
Appellee complied and immediately began walking toward the
door. Apparently, before Appellee reached the front of the
classroom, Appellant asked Mr. Garrison to close the
classroom door. Appellee later testified that he did not know
why Appellant did so but that it made him mad and he began
breathing heavily and clenching his fists. Appellant
attempted to place Appellee's arms behind his back, but
Appellee resisted and began swinging his arms out. At that
point, Appellant asked Mr. Garrison to open the classroom
door and, while moving Appellee toward the door, implemented
a Safe Crisis Management ("SCM") maneuver designed
to bring Appellee to the ground and under control. The
procedure required Appellant to bump Appellee forward and
then quickly pull him back so that he lost his balance. Both
Appellant and Appellee ended up on the floor with Appellant
restraining Appellee by holding his hands behind his back.
Appellant placed his right knee behind Appellee's knee as
he was pressed to the floor. Within minutes of the incident,
Farnsley Assistant Principal, Donald Dillard, arrived and
escorted Appellee to the office. Appellee subsequently
claimed that he suffered injury to his knee as a result of
being pressed to the floor during the SCM maneuver.
September 26, 2014, Appellee filed an action in the Jefferson
Circuit Court claiming that the Jefferson County Board of
Education ("Board"), Superintendent Donna Hargens,
Farnsley Principal Linda Hudson, and Appellant were liable
for the injuries he sustained during the altercation.
Specifically, Appellee alleged that the Board, Hargens and
Hudson were negligent in failing to prevent his injuries.
Further, Appellee alleged claims of negligent hiring,
supervision, retention, and training against the same three
defendants. With respect to Appellant, Appellee claimed that
his actions amounted to an intentional infliction of
emotional distress and that Appellant's attempt to
restrain him constituted negligence per se because
it violated provisions of KRS 161.180, as well as certain
Jefferson County Public School's SCM procedures.
Appellee's complaint sought compensatory and punitive
damages against all defendants.
September 10, 2015, the defendants filed a motion for summary
judgment arguing that (1) the Board was entitled to
governmental immunity; (2) Hargens and Hudson were entitled
to qualified immunity; (3) Appellant was entitled to immunity
under the Teacher Protection Act; and (4) Appellee failed to
establish the prima facie elements of his negligence
and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims. On
July 13, 2016, the trial court entered an opinion and order
granting in part, and denying in part, the motion for summary
judgment. Therein, the trial court found that the Board was
entitled to governmental immunity and that Hargens and Hudson
were both entitled to qualified immunity for their
discretionary acts. The trial court also noted that both
Hargens and Hudson were entitled to immunity under the
Teacher Protection Act. With regard to Appellant, the trial
court dismissed Appellee's claim of intentional
infliction of emotional distress. However, the court denied
summary judgment on the remaining negligence claim against
[T]he facts in the record indicate that a genuine issue of
material fact exists concerning whether Steffan, without
justification to do so, applied harmful force to remove
[Smyzer] from the classroom, thereby committing the torts of
assault and battery - both of which constitute violations of
state and county laws and regulations that constitute
ministerial acts not afforded immunity under Kentucky law. As
potential violations of state and local laws and beyond the
scope of Steffan's duties, the acts would also not be
afforded immunity under federal law. See 20 U.S.C.A. §
7946(1) and (2). Likewise, since a genuine issue of material
fact exists concerning whether Steffan's acts were
appropriate under state and local law and regulations, his
motion to dismiss the common law negligence and assault and
battery claims against him are DENIED.
standard of review on appeal of a summary judgment is
"whether the trial court correctly found that there were
no genuine issues as to any material fact and that the moving
party was entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Scifres v. Kraft, 916 S.W.2d 779, 781 (Ky. App.
1996). Summary judgment shall be granted "if the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories,
stipulations, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law." CR 56.03. The trial court
must view the record "in a light most favorable to the
party opposing the motion for summary judgment and all doubts
are to be resolved in his favor." Steelvest v.
Scansteel Service Center, Inc., 807 S.W.2d 476, 480 (Ky.
1991). Summary judgment is proper only "where the movant
shows that the adverse party could not prevail under any
Court, Appellant claims that the trial court erred in finding
that he was not entitled to immunity under the Teacher
Protection Act because Appellee neither proved that his
actions amounted to a violation of federal, state, or local
laws, nor that he was guilty of criminal misconduct, gross
negligence, or reckless misconduct. Appellant contends that
there is simply no evidence that he acted recklessly or with
flagrant indifference to Appellee's safety. Appellant
also argues that Appellee's negligence per se
claims and punitive damage claims are barred by the Teacher
procedural matter, Appellee contends that this appeal must be
dismissed because there has been no final judgment and
Appellant is not entitled to an interlocutory ...