Metro government has agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a 4-year-old case in which an ex-convict entered a middle school door that should have been locked, hid in a women’s locker room and later physically assaulted a cafeteria worker.
The financial agreement to avoid trial came from a school board vote Tuesday night to award the injured cafeteria worker, Patricia Owen, and her husband Gary Owen $150,000.
Around 7 a.m. on Sept. 18, 2008, Patricia Owen, 48 years old at the time, entered a back door at Ewing Park Middle School, in the Whites Creek area, to begin her workday in the school’s kitchen. Unbeknownst to Owen, a man named Larkarltis Corder was hiding in the school’s women’s locker room.
There, she met Corder, who slammed her head inside a bathroom stall, which caused bruising, contusions, lacerations and head injuries, according to court documents. According to media reports at the time, Corder was an ex-convict on parole. Police had said Corder arrived at the school to “sleep off a drug high.”
Citing negligence, Owen, and her husband sued both Metro and Stones River Electric, a Nashville-based company Metro had hired to perform electric work at the middle school.
At approximately 2 a.m. on the morning of the attack, a Stones River Electric employee left Ewing Park Middle School without locking the back door or setting its alarm, according to the Owen complaint. The middle school had an unwritten policy that the door be locked at all times.
Corder entered the school through this same door.
The original suit, filed in Davidson County Circuit Court, sought $500,000 in compensatory damages collectively from Metro and the company, claiming Owen suffered physical and psychological damages, impairment, disability, pain and suffering, medical expenses and other compensable damages expenses. Her husband, Gary Owen, suffered “the loss of consortium and services of his wife,” the complaint states.
Metro attorneys moved for summary judgment, citing the state’s Tort Liability Act and “public duty doctrine,” which says public entities are shielded from liability when injuries are caused by a public employee’s breach of duty.
Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Amanda McClendon, however, denied the motion in a January 2012 memorandum.