Metro teacher knocked out student’s teeth, lawsuit says

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 11:45pm

The parents of a Madison student are suing Metro, claiming a run-in with a Metro teacher knocked two of her teeth out and led to the posting of an embarrassing warning sign.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Davidson County Circuit Court, alleges that last September, a teacher identified in the suit as Elynda W. Thomas opened an office door while looking the other way in conversation.

The opening door hit a Haynes Middle School girl in the face as she walked down a hallway, “breaking” two of the girl’s teeth and loosening others, the suit states.

But while the impact with the door, which the suit labels an “accident,” may have caused her physical pain, it was a warning sign “depicting a ‘smiley face’ with missing teeth” posted later on the door by an unidentified person that would bring the girl “continued humiliation among her peers.”

The suit, which doesn’t name Thomas as a defendant, blames negligence on the part of Metro and claims the door opening into the hallway rather than into the office creates “a dangerous condition on the school premises.”

The parents of the child are seeking compensatory damages of no more than $300,000 as well as court costs and attorney fees.

Mike Safley, deputy director of the Metro Department of Law, said Metro had not yet been served with the lawsuit and could not comment.

50 Comments on this post:

By: richgoose on 9/9/10 at 3:32

When you have no chance of ever earning your way out of poverty then the lawsuit is a better chance of success than the lottery. Most people who file lawsuits as frivolous as this probably play the lottery also.

By: bfra on 9/9/10 at 3:43

The lawyer that took this case is even more frivolous than the lawsuit!

By: WayneR on 9/9/10 at 6:43

Has it occurred to anyone to question the student's responsibility to see an open door and avoid walking into it? Or is it too much to expect a middle school student to have enough wherewithal to see a door, a fairly large obstruction in her path, and travel around the door to avoid hitting it with her face? Good grief. Toss this nonsense on the heap of frivolous suits.


By: girliegirl on 9/9/10 at 7:00

....or....did it occur to you that the door opened "suddenly" and now your little girl has not front teeth? Wow, the sensitivity level on here today is mind numbing.

By: soodle on 9/9/10 at 7:11

Richard Opp Things like this are why I watch where I go!!

By: HighlyAnnoyed on 9/9/10 at 7:14

she was probably texting and didn't see the door open.

By: localboy on 9/9/10 at 7:17

Good point, but is a lawsuit necessary?
At that age, the girl's 'peers' would have likely teased her unmercifually the same way if she had had the teeth knocked out at a softball game, while coming down the stairs, etc. Fix her teetth, fix the door, and perhaps just move on.

By: pswindle on 9/9/10 at 7:30

I'm sure Metro had insurance to fix the teeth. Was that not good enough?

By: TakePrideInNash on 9/9/10 at 7:37

Metro's insurance will pay for the medical bills, but they should not have to pay a penny more. It is not like it was intentional.

By: Reesgm on 9/9/10 at 7:41

This was an unfortunate accident, but it certainly does not merit a lawsuit against Metro...Come on, why not just split the cost of the dental bills between Metro and the parents?

Even though, this was an accident, parent are still the main ones who are responsible or liable for their children. If the girl had walked into a door at home under similar circumstances, there would be no lawsuit!!!

It's very sad that nowadays some parents seek to shift their responsibility for their children onto the shoulders of others.

By: cval on 9/9/10 at 8:30

Frivolous? Tell you what. If you think so, let me slam a door in your face and knock out a couple of your teeth and then tell me how frivolous you think it is. OoooKay? Now, imagine you're a child and have to live the rest of your life with that. Also, where in the article does it say the child is in poverty? Is that your assumption or do you have some inside information? If you are a friend of the party being sued, quit hiding behind anonymity and have enough honesty to state your name.

By: robertmack on 9/9/10 at 8:41

Quoting the article: The suit, which doesn’t name Thomas as a defendant, blames negligence on the part of Metro and claims the door opening into the hallway rather than into the office creates “a dangerous condition on the school premises.”
That is the way the doors are supposed to open....(OUTWARD), so the occupants can exit in case of emergency. This is a NEC (National Electrical Codes) code backed entirely by all Fire Marshalls.

By: titm on 9/9/10 at 8:43

Sounds like just an accident that the parents are trying to make money off of. Imagine what $300k would pay for for the school district. I fell of the monkey bars when I was a kid and knocked out a tooth, should my parents have sued the school, and yes I walked around for a while missing a tooth and you know I got over it. Its called growing up. It's stupid shit like this that keep our school systems struggeling with liability, money and keeping good teachers. Get over yourself and trying to make a quick buck. Its called life.

By: Magnum on 9/9/10 at 8:50

The suit, which doesn’t name Thomas as a defendant, blames negligence on the part of Metro and claims the door opening into the hallway rather than into the office creates “a dangerous condition on the school premises.”

I may be wrong on this, but I'm thinking doors in public buildings are required to swing out per code. For instance, if there was a fire in the building and the door opened into the office, everyone would rush to the door creating a situation where the door could not be opened...therefore, its a safety issue. If true, the lawyer missed a big opportunity here. They could have gone after codes inspectors, regulators, etc.

And is this lawsuit frivolous...yes it is. I understand that this was horrific for the child and if it were mine, I'd be distraught. But this was an accident. There was no negligence, no ill will, no attempt to harm, and no way to check the surroundings for oncoming students before opening the door. Bringing lawsuits into everyday accidents is what has ruined our legal system and basic trust of others. Speaking of which, I was hit with a metal gym door in high school. While I didn't lose any teeth, it did hurt badly and it was embarrassing. I think that guy is a doctor now days. I bet he's worth a pretty penny. Wonder what the statute on that type of offense is...

By: Magnum on 9/9/10 at 8:51

Thanks for the code clarification Mack. I must have been typing when you posted.

By: TakePrideInNash on 9/9/10 at 8:52

The Medical Payments in the insurance policy will pay for the child's medical expenses regardless of who is at fault. That is all that should be paid.

By: charlysgarden on 9/9/10 at 9:07

my take was that the both the student and the parent understood that it was an accident, it was the "Embarrasment and Humiliation " from the happy face sign that was posted as a warning was what proceeded to get her riled and file a claim !
You breeders are all the same to me!
You all feel free to judge these parents and their self absorbed children but you wont even look at your own pathetic lives. Oh to be sure it's frivolious because it is some one else who is doing this . But rest assured if the shoe was on the other feet it would be amazing how many of you would react the same!!
I work in retail and I see how todays parents submit to their kids every whim . " I want this or I want that " , It really is quite sickening to watch! Oh and yes, yours are the kids that climb on displays and run screaming through the store and yours are the one slipping throught the departments wearing heelies and causing those of us helping you to damn near trip because of you you let you allowed your spoiled assed kids to wear those things in a working area! .
So no I dont find any of this to be remarkable in the slightest! there are no morals now , there are no role modles because the majority of you breeders are bringing your kids up to be the next generaton of fat assed non caring, pathetic as you are humans that has ever been born! No wander this kind of thing gets such feedback !

By: TakePrideInNash on 9/9/10 at 9:38

Sounds like charlysgarden missed his or her medication.

By: Magnum on 9/9/10 at 10:20

They should bring in a forensics team to determine the party responsible for creating and posting the sign and that person or persons should be brought to justice.

Charlys, thank you for pointing out how judgemental WE all are. Glad to see someone posting well thought out, non-judgemental arguments on here today. You must be a gem.

By: oldschoolgirl on 9/9/10 at 1:03

I can't believe how opinated some people are who know nothing about the legal system. If it was your child whose teeth were knocked out and Metro refused to pay for the medical bills, what would you do? If you had no choice other than to file a lawsuit, would YOU do it? I dare say most of you would. If this was your child being taunted at school because of an accident that knocked out her teeth, how would YOU react? It's all different when it's your child instead of someone else's. Obviously, these parents felt they had no alternative. Why should they be responsible for exhoribant medical expenses? These parents probably aren't trying to "get out of poverty" as someone commented, perhaps they are middle class hard working people like most of us who only wants Metro to accept the responsibility they should. I wish them the best.

By: Magnum on 9/9/10 at 1:15

Old School Gal, did Metro refuse to pay her medical bills?

By: Magnum on 9/9/10 at 1:17

By the way OSG, that's not a baited question. It wouldn't surprise me if they didn't refuse to pay.

By: Magnum on 9/9/10 at 1:18

I wouldn't surprise me if they DID refuse to pay her medical bills. No need in waiting on the grammar police to get me for my double negative.

By: Magnum on 9/9/10 at 1:18

I wouldn't surprise me if they DID refuse to pay her medical bills. No need in waiting on the grammar police to get me for my double negative.

By: TakePrideInNash on 9/9/10 at 1:34

OSG, please try to read all the posts and you might learn something. Metro's insurance policy will pay her medical bills up to the Medical Payments limit on the policy REGARDLESS of who is at fault. I doubt her injuries came to more than the policy limits.

By: NewYorker1 on 9/9/10 at 2:19

"When you have no chance of ever earning your way out of poverty then the lawsuit is a better chance of success than the lottery."

Just for that comment, I hope the parents WIN the lawsuit.

By: NewYorker1 on 9/9/10 at 3:44

And once the lawsuit if over, the parents should take $10K of that money and hire someone to knock out the teacher's teeth so that SCANK will know how it feels.

By: TheTRUTHandNoth... on 9/9/10 at 4:47

Do your research before commenting! $300,000 is a general amount that is always asked for in suits, not necessarily the amout that the lawyer expects or the parents asked for.
What makes anyone just assume that the family lives in poverty?
The reason that the family probably decided to sue is because Metro probably did not pay. In the past, if you do your homework, you will see that they refuse to pay unless they are sued.
And to the person who fell off the monkey bars as a child, did a teacher carelessly cause you to fall off the monkey bars. If you were on monkey bars, you were probably in elemenetary school & it's likely that did not have your permanent teeth. I bet it grew back. This boy / girl attends a middle school so they are probably 5-8 grade & would have PERMANENT teeth. Is it fair to go a lifetime without teeth because this? The parents probably just want to be sure their child's expensenses will be paid. Who knows what the future holds for that poor child. They may be 30 yrs old and still have problems because of this. I can only imagine what they must have gone through.
God bless this family and especially the child.
If you made a hateful comment, God bless you too and I pray that you don't have children.
Claims are not paid unless a suit is filed.

By: TheTRUTHandNoth... on 9/9/10 at 4:49

GEEZ!!! Can you just imagine how hard that hit must have been? OUCH!!!

By: TheTRUTHandNoth... on 9/9/10 at 4:53

Take Pride in Nashville, you know NOTHING. Why don't YOU call and ask if they paid?

By: Magnum on 9/10/10 at 7:17

Whether Metro paid is the key to the entire debate in my mind. If it were my kid and they paid, that would be the end of it. If it were my kid and they did not pay, I'd probably sue as well. I think what bothers most, including me, is that they aren't suing for medical reimbursement only. They are going after Metro for being negligent for hanging the door per building codes. This is ridiculous and makes one immediately think the family is out to "win the lottery". This is all it takes to no longer see the a sweet child getting slammed in the face with a door, but to now see a poor family that needs the money and decides to sue. And for the record, I have seen Metro refuse to pay in one case so it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't.

One more thing, this family may have not intended to sue for negligence and done so out of rage. I have seen an instance where one party had no intent to sue another until the other played hard ball and ticked them off. They then sued the crap out of the other party and took them to the cleaners. So Metro may be shooting itself in the foot in these cases. As I said, it all hinges on whether they paid the medical expenses for the family.

By: bfra on 9/10/10 at 7:36

Or, until the lawyer talked them into going for top dollar, so he would get more money.

By: TakePrideInNash on 9/10/10 at 8:13

You don't have to sue for medical purposes only. The student was injured on school grounds and the policy pays under the Medical Payments portion of the policy up to the Medical Payments policy limit REGARDLESS who is at fault. I'm not sure what Metro's limits are but I doubt the Med Pay limit is under $10,000 per student or at the very least $5,000. Either way, it should be more than enough to cover the expenses.

By: Rocket99 on 9/10/10 at 8:22

One thing to remember is there is a limit to the amount Metro can be sued. $300,000 may be that limit.

IF the parents win the lawsuit, I think they should be required to put the money not needed for medical expenses in the child's college fund and not use it for their own personal gain.

Like someone else stated, the child was probably texting and not paying attention.

As a child I was injured on school property using school equipment. My insurance payed for the medical expenses. Guess it's too late now for me to sue the school system for having such dangerous equipment on their property and me possibly loosing the ability to be a pro athlete who should be making millions.

By: cval on 9/10/10 at 8:56

All of you know darn well that if parents making $100,000 per year and more had a child whose teeth were knocked out at school, they would not only sue, they would hire the most expensive lawyers since O.J. Simpson's Dream Team. There are just a lot of two faced people posting here. First of all, how many people work in that office compared to how many children are in the halls going to class at appointed times? Whose safety should be more precious? Is there not a Plexiglas window in the door so the adult could see if children were in the hall and could be hurt by the sudden opening of the door? Was the adult watching and being careful out of concern for the children or talking to someone behind her as she plowed through the door?

By: budlight on 9/10/10 at 8:59

girliegirl on 9/9/10 at 8:00
....or....did it occur to you that the door opened "suddenly" and now your little girl has not front teeth? Wow, the sensitivity level on here today is mind numbing.

"all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth = and a million bucks".

Well, I know a teacher who's been injured 2 times - severely - by a no-good student and she's not collected any bucko's.

Where's the justice in that.

Accidents happen. Fix the damn teeth. The smiley face - toothless? Get over it and buck up to a little joke. Be glad Jay Leon and David Letterman have not gotten wind of it.

By: cval on 9/10/10 at 9:01

One more thing, "the child was probably texting and not paying attention." Pulease!! There is a big difference between children and adults. That's why they're called "children". Oh, I bet your child is so much better and that would never happen to your child.... hogwash! Are you seriously intimating that a child is responsible and not the adult? Oh, well, let's change all the laws. Anyone under 21 can drink alcohol and vote and drive, etc. Over 21? Your time is up. How about it? Ridiculous? Of course. So are your comments along this vein.

By: conservarage on 9/10/10 at 9:07

what a poorly constructed title for an article.

By: cybush on 9/10/10 at 9:27

As a former educator, in an elementary school, safety was always an issue. Most teacher are very much aware of the importance of carefully opening a door because there is always rhe posssiblity that a sstudenet is approaching. I shudder when I think of the pain that I know this student endured, even a seasoned boxer would have difficulty with that. It was an accident but did Metro or the teacher accept responsibility for their actions? Did either offer to pay the amount that the insurance doesn't cover? What about the trips to the dentist or the time missed from school? Are the injuries something that can be simply repaired and the student return to life as it was before the accident? Most of all, ask yourself what if this was my child and then go back and write your comment We teach our children to be responsible and we should practice what we preach. Average hard working parents should not have to accept the full expense for anccident that was caused by someone not giving proper attention to the task at hand. .

By: Magnum on 9/10/10 at 9:44

Unless the door opens into oncoming traffic, a window is worthless. By the time you see someone coming from the left or right, you've either already hit them or they have past uneventfully.

By: TakePrideInNash on 9/10/10 at 9:57

Next thing you know, someone will spill coffee in their lap while driving off from a drive-thru and sue the establishment for a million bucks that sold it because it was hot. Oh wait!.

By: TheTRUTHandNoth... on 9/10/10 at 10:07

Let the JUDGE Decide.
Nobody on this forum knows the details but I know from previous caes, that they WILL NOT PAY unless they are sued.
IF THEY HAD PAID, the parents would NOT have to sue.
IF THEY HAD PAID it all probably would have ended there.
I am willing to bet THEY DID NOT PAY. Even if they paid whatever the insurance didn't (if there is personal insurance), it probably would have ended there.
Parents HAVE to sue because THEY WILL NOT PAY UNLESS SUED.
sad but true. The maximum amount is 300,000, so that is what is always asked for. Read about previous similar cases.
Be careful of judging.

God is my witness.^

By: cybush on 9/10/10 at 10:21

We all seem to be 'stuck' on money and insurance. Have we forgotten that this is a child. Have you ever had a tooth extracted without any medication?Tthis is an injury that will probably take years to properly correct. If she was a middle school student these were permanent teeth, which means at this young age she has to have teeth replaced. Does she still attend that school with that teacher on the staff? After such trauma, what are the emotional problems that may result? Please, let's have some compassion and empathy for this child and her family and what they are going through. Our children are our messengers that we send to a future that we may never see. What message, by our comments, are we sending?

By: TakePrideInNash on 9/10/10 at 11:34

Truth, you have a problem comprehending. Medical payments ARE paid without having to sue!!!!!

By: TakePrideInNash on 9/10/10 at 11:45


A general liability coverage in which the insurer reimburses without regard to the insured's liability, the insured and others (as specifically provided in the policy) for medical and funeral expenses incurred by such persons as a result of bodily injury or death sustained by accident under the conditions specified in the policy.

By: TheTRUTHandNoth... on 9/10/10 at 12:04

Proverbs 11:12
“People without good sense find fault with others, but those with understanding keep quiet.”

TakePrideInNash - Your post about medical payments -- general liability is not relevant because, obviously they did not pay. What attorney would take a case where the accused had aleady paid? That would be a waste of time. Think long and hard about that. Again, what attorney would take a case that had already been paid?

No Truth does not have a problem understanding. YOU have a problem comprehending how obvious it is that medical payments more than likely were not paid. Who are you to determine if another person has trouble comprehending? It is you who does not understand. While you've done your general and broad research & even gone as far as including a link, you fail to realize that, that doesn't mean that that is what happened in this case.

Good bye.

God is my witness.

By: TakePrideInNash on 9/10/10 at 12:18

Truth, it looks like the lawyer took the case to get them more than what they deserved. Some people are not satisfied with being reimbursed what they are owed, they want much beyond that. Sounds like the Med Pay was not good enough for them. Sounds like greed and a free ride is taking over.

By: TakePrideInNash on 9/10/10 at 12:29

Further more, losing a couple of teeth hurts but it does not set you back in life. Also, there was no intent. There are legitimate claims every day, but there are a thousand more to where a lawyer will tell some that they can get them more even if it is not warranted. This is one of the things that drive up insurance premiums. With legitimate insurance claims the insured is put back financially where he was before the loss, not to make the person instantly rich.

By: mr.jackson94 on 9/10/10 at 3:46

Sorry TakePride but Truth is very much correct and I'm totally neutral in this. I worked in the legal system for 17 years. It was in another city but for the most part in the U.S, It's pretty much the same. Most governments will definitely won't pay unless they are sued. They keep denying claims hoping that either that the people will either get tired and forget it or that they can't afford representation. I am about 98% sure that the reason suit was filed was because the claim was denied over and over again. Here is your clue: If this happened last month, then the parents are just looking for money without even giving the government a chance to pay. If this happened last year, then the parents waited and waited but the claim was denied several times. The key words in your statement above is "I guess" med wasn't enough. The key words that I will use is "I know".

By: mr.jackson94 on 9/10/10 at 3:47

The empty wagon makes the loudest noise. Who's making the loudest noise here?