DULUTH, Minn. — A school bus company here has agreed to a $45,000 settlement with the mother of a boy whose school bus driver grabbed him to make him sit up in his seat in 2016, Duluth News Tribune reports.
Court documents stated that the incident occurred in December 2016, when the Voyageur Bus Co. driver reportedly grabbed the boy’s shoulders and the collar of his shirt, according to the newspaper. The boy, 7 years old at the time, had been lying on the seat, according to court documents, and wouldn’t sit up when told to by the driver. Robert Mathias, the attorney for the boy’s family, told Duluth News Tribune that the driver grabbed the student at two stops, and did so in an attempt to make him sit up to accommodate another student in the seat.
After the incident occurred, the boy reportedly experienced several problems, including nightmares, angry outbursts, less interest in activities, and bedwetting, and was referred to trauma-focused therapy, according to the newspaper. The lawsuit originated in April, and stated that the bus driver caused the boy “embarrassment, physical discomfort, and emotional distress.” The lawsuit sought over $50,000 in damages.
In the early stages of the case, the bus company denied wrongdoing, citing state statute and its allowance for reasonable use of force by a school bus driver “to restrain a child or pupil, or to prevent bodily harm or death to another." (It is not known whether the driver faced any consequences for the incident, according to Duluth News Tribune.) Mathias told the newspaper that the incident didn’t meet use of force standards. In November, the bus company agreed in District Court to pay the sum and avoid trial, according to the newspaper. Of the $45,000 total in damages and fees, $25,775 will go into an interest-bearing account that the now 8-year-old boy will access later. The settlement was approved this week.
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