Obiter Dicta

Rude Awakening

Sleepy Student Sues Ticked-Off Teacher Whose Hard Desk Slap Interfered with His Nap

Posted May 1, 2008 8:00 AM CDT
By Brian Sullivan

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Anyone who has ever snoozed through a class knows that technique is all-important. If you know what’s good for you, you don’t just lay your head down and drift into dreamland.

But that’s exactly what sophomore Vinicios Robacher did in December at Danbury (Conn.) High School. Let’s just call it a rookie mistake, though apparently teacher Melissa Nadeau wasn’t prepared to be quite so forgiving.

In a notice of intent (which is a precursor to a lawsuit) filed in the Danbury town clerk’s office, Roba­cher alleges that Nadeau slammed her open hand down on his desk so hard that it damaged his hearing.

The boy’s attorney, Alan Barry of Danbury, says the boy was traumatized by the incident and awoke the next morn­ing with bloody fluid on his pillow. He adds that surgical repair may be necessary. “He’s a typical 15-year-old, average student,” Barry says of Robacher, “with no disciplinary history of any kind.”

Barry says a lawsuit would likely allege civil assault and battery, and perhaps negligent hiring. The suit would probably seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and impact on lifestyle due to hearing loss.

“Under no circumstances,” Barry says, “does anyone deserve to be injured for falling asleep.”

A spokesperson for the school district said it does not comment on pending litigation.

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