KD v. Douglas County School District No. 001, No. 20-1772 (8th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, parents of LD, filed suit against the school district and others after their daughter LD, a 13-year-old, 7th grade student, was sexually abused by her teacher, Brian Robeson.
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the school district and the principal. The court concluded that plaintiffs failed to present any evidence that the principal had actual notice of the abuse, and the principal and the school district were entitled to summary judgment on plaintiffs' Title IX and 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims. The court also concluded that the district court did not err by granting summary judgment in favor of the school district and principal on plaintiffs' Nebraska Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act where plaintiffs' claim arose out of Robeson's sexual assault of LD, an intentional tort to which the Act's intentional tort exception applies. The court further concluded that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the principal on plaintiffs' aiding and abetting intentional infliction of emotional distress claim where nothing in the record, even when viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, indicates that the principal encouraged or assisted Robeson in inflicting emotional distress on LD.
The court joined its sister circuits in finding that there is no right to a jury trial on the issue of damages following entry of default judgment. The court affirmed the district court's order denying plaintiffs' request for a jury trial on the issue of damages against Robeson. Finally, the court affirmed the $1,249,540.41 amount of damages awarded against Robeson.
Court Description: [Shepherd, Author, with Erickson and Kobes, Circuit Judges] Civil case - Title IX. Defendant Bartels, the school principal, did not have actual notice that a teacher was abusing plaintiffs' child, and he and the district were entitled to summary judgment on plaintiffs' Title IX and Section 1983 claims; nor did the district court err in granting summary judgment to Bartels and the district on plaintiffs' Nebraska Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act claims as they were entitled to qualified immunity under the Act because the claims against them arose from an intentional tort, the teacher's sexual assault of the student, and the intentional tort exception to liability applies; nor did the court err in granting summary judgment in favor of Bartels on plaintiffs' claim for aiding and abetting intentional infliction of emotional distress as there was no evidence that Bartels encouraged or assisted the teacher's abuse of the student; plaintiffs were not entitled to a jury trial on damages after the teacher failed to file an answer to their complaint and the district court entered a default judgment against him; the court joins its sister circuits in finding there is no right to a jury trial on the issue of damages following entry of default judgment; amount of damages awarded against the teacher was not inadequate under a clearly erroneous standard of review. [ June 15, 2021 ]