The Muscogee County School District and other defendants have responded to the $25 million lawsuit filed on behalf of the 13-year-old boy who had his right leg amputated below the knee after a contracted behavioral specialist allegedly body-slammed him multiple times.
Renee Tucker, the lawyer representing Montravious Thomas and his mother, Lawanda Thomas, filed the lawsuit March 13 in Muscogee County State Court. Tucker works with the law firm Forrest B. Johnson & Associates, which has offices in Columbus, Atlanta and Macon.
The other defendants named in the lawsuit, individually and in their official capacities, are:
▪ David F. Lewis, MCSD superintendent of education.
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▪ Bryant Alexander Mosley, the contracted behavioral specialist who allegedly body-slammed Montravious multiple times Sept. 12 in the Edgewood Student Services Center, an MCSD alternative school where students in the AIM (Achievement, Integrity and Maturity) program may be temporarily assigned after severely violating the district’s behavior code.
▪ Mentoring & Behavioral Services LLC, the Columbus-based employer of Mosley.
▪ Zehra S. Malone, an MCSD teacher at Edgewood.
▪ Phyllis Fox, an MCSD paraprofessional at Edgewood.
▪ Eddie Powell, an MCSD assistant principal at Edgewood.
▪ Gisela M. Huggins, an MCSD bus driver.
The lawsuit alleges:
▪ Mosley, Malone, Fox, Powell and Huggins were negligent while Montravious was in their care.
▪ MCSD, Lewis and MBS were negligent in the hiring, training and supervision of their employees.
▪ The actions and inactions of Mosley, Malone, Fox and Powell constitute “abuse, assault and battery.”
▪ Montravious’ rights to due process and equal protection were denied.
The medical expenses for Montravious’ treatment have totaled more than $600,436, according to the lawsuit. Adding punitive damages, the plaintiffs seek $25 million.
Unlike the allegations in the complaint, the responses filed on behalf of the defendants don’t contain a detailed chronology or version of events. No response from Mentoring & Behavioral Services had been filed as of Friday morning.
Response from MCSD et al
MCSD’s law firm, Hall Booth Smith PC of Columbus, has partnered with Harben, Hartley & Hawkins LLP of Gainesville in defense of the school district, Lewis, Malone, Fox and Huggins, as well as Powell but only in his official capacity.
After the original April 12 deadline for responses was extended, the response for MCSD et al, signed by Greg Ellington of Hall Booth Smith and Hieu Nguyen on behalf of Phillip Hartley, was filed May 4 and includes the following defenses:
▪ The complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and therefore must be dismissed.
▪ These defendants are entitled to the defenses of sovereign and official immunity.
▪ The actions of these defendants weren’t the proximate cause of any alleged injury or damages complained of in the complaint.
▪ Any injury or damages suffered by the plaintiffs were the result of an independent intervening cause and not the result of any alleged negligence or other actions or inactions of these defendants.
▪ Montravious failed to exercise ordinary care for his safety, so the plaintiffs aren’t entitled to recover some or all of the claims.
▪ The plaintiffs weren’t deprived of any constitutional or statutory right as a result of the application of any policy, practice or custom of MCSD.
▪ The plaintiffs may not assert a claim for punitive damages against MCSD or the individuals named in their official capacities.
Response from Mosley
Mosley’s attorneys, Daniel Huff and David Mize from the Columbus office of Atlanta-based law firm Huff, Powell & Bailey LLC, filed his response May 3. His defenses include:
▪ The plaintiffs’ complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
▪ Some or all of the plaintiffs’ claims may be barred by the doctrine of official and/or qualified immunity.
▪ The plaintiffs cannot meet their burden of establishing punitive damages against Mosley.
▪ Mosley denies the plaintiffs’ allegations of wrongdoing or that the plaintiffs are entitled to any recovery from him for any alleged wrongdoing.
▪ No allegedly negligent act on Mosley’s part caused or contributed in causing any of the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries and damages.
▪ The plaintiffs’ alleged injuries and damages may have been caused, in whole or in part, by the conduct of others over whom Mosley exercised no control and for whose conduct he isn’t responsible.
▪ Some or all of the plaintiffs’ claim may be barred by the defense of justification.
Response from Powell
Powell, in his individual capacity, is represented by attorneys LaRae Moore and David Siegel of the Columbus law firm Page, Scrantom, Sprouse, Tucker & Ford PC. Powell’s response, filed May 4, includes the following defenses:
▪ The plaintiffs’ complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
▪ The plaintiffs’ claims are barred because this court lacks jurisdiction over this subject matter.
▪ Powell didn’t breach any duty he may have owed to the plaintiffs based upon the complaint’s allegations.
▪ The plaintiffs aren’t entitled to recover because Powell didn’t cause the plaintiffs’ injuries, if any.
▪ The plaintiffs aren’t entitled to recover because Powell’s acts or omissions, if any, weren’t the proximate cause of the plaintiffs’ accident or injuries.
▪ The plaintiffs’ claims are barred against Powell to the extent the injuries and damages complained of were caused by the actions of third parties for which Powell wasn’t responsible.
▪ The plaintiffs’ claims against Powell, in his individual capacity, are barred by the doctrine of official immunity because his acts were carried out in the good faith performance of his official, discretionary duties and without malice or actual intent to cause injury to Montravious.