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Sunday, January 26, 2020

Lawsuit: Philadelphia school kept 10-year-old handcuffed for five hours, caused asthma attack


By Brian Brueggemann | May 28, 2019

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PHILADELPHIA – A Philadelphia woman has filed a lawsuit alleging she was handcuffed and left in a conference room for hours when she was a 10-year-old at a Philadelphia school.

In the lawsuit filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the School District of Philadelphia, Diamond Wilson alleges she suffered an asthma attack and passed out while she was handcuffed for more than five hours in a conference room at Barry Elementary School in 2010. The suit claims she was handcuffed after she was involved in a fight.

The suit claims Wilson was then hospitalized for three days and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and later began attending counseling due to anxiety and difficulty sleeping.

The school district's attorney, Hannah Girer-Rosenkrantz, recently said the district does not comment on pending litigation.

Wilson's attorney, Gregg Zeff of the Zeff Law Firm in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, said Wilson is now 18 and there is no statute-of-limitations issue because she filed the suit within two years after reaching age 18.

Zeff said he doesn't know if handcuffing students was an approved practice in the school district.

He said Wilson has suffered significant harm. "This is psychologically devastating, as it would be on anybody," Zeff said.

According to the suit, a security guard broke up a fight between Wilson and a pair of twins, then the guard took Wilson to a principal's office, "where the decision to keep her detained was made."

"Defendants then escorted the plaintiff to a small conference room where she was then handcuffed from noon to 5:30/6 p.m.," the suit said. "The conference room was 90 degrees at the time with no air ventilation. When plaintiff's legal guardian arrived, she had passed out from an asthma attack and was taken straight to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia."

The school district has filed a motion to dismiss the suit on grounds that it is "astoundingly vague."

"Plaintiff does not identify which defendant, if any, allegedly placed handcuffs on her, or which defendant escorted her to a conference room," the school district said in its motion. "Here, plaintiff’s pleadings are so thin and her claims so poorly stated that Defendant School District is uncertain of what claims and defenses are at issue."

The lawsuit was filed in Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas and then removed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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Organizations in this Story

Philadelphia County Court of Common PleasU.S. District Court for the Eastern District of PennsylvaniaZeff Law Firm LLC

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