Phila. School Dist. files removal notice to federal court in case involving lawsuit over student shooting

Jon Campisi Feb. 3, 2012, 9:43am

Lawyers for the Philadelphia School District have filed a removal notice in federal court in Philadelphia in which they seek to transfer a complaint that was filed against it late last month in state court to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The lawsuit, filed on Jan. 31 at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court, alleges that the school district was negligent when it failed to discover a student with a gun on a bus.

The student had earlier gotten into an altercation with another student, identified as Christopher Taylor, the plaintiff in the case, and then returned with a firearm the next day and ended up shooting Taylor in the head.

According to the suit, which had been filed by Philadelphia attorney Sherri L. Eyer, of the firm Williams Cuker & Berezofsky, defendant Taryale Petter had gotten into a “serious argument” with the plaintiff back on Nov. 5, 2009 while riding a school bus.

Petter had threatened Taylor, and then returned the following day with a gun, which he allegedly used to shoot Taylor in the head, the suit states.

The complaint accused the defendants, which also included Community Education Partners Inc., which contracts with the district to operate an alternative school for children with disciplinary issues, of failing to discover the weapon on Petter prior to him boarding the school bus.

The gun used during the crime was owned by Gwen Ivey, another defendant named in the lawsuit. Ivey’s grandson is Petter’s half-brother.

The complaint accuses Ivey of doing nothing to adequately restrict access to her firearm, thereby enabling the young man to get his hands on it and use it in the commission of a crime.

The lawsuit states that Taylor has suffered grievous bodily injury, severe physical pain and suffering, disfigurement, severe emotional distress, loss of life’s pleasures and loss of income.

The suit contains counts of negligence, assault and battery and state-created danger.

In its removal notice, school district lawyers contend that the U.S. District Court has jurisdiction over the civil action because it contains claims of federal law violations.

The removal notice was filed by Diane Bernoff, an attorney with the Philadelphia School District’s Office of General Counsel.

The state case ID number is 120104179.

The federal case number is 2:12-cv-00541-JD.

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