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St. Paul teacher assaulted by student loses court appeal

August 10, 2018

A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a former St. Paul teacher beaten by a Central High student in 2015.

John Ekblad had accused the school district of negligence, and wanted to hold the school system and two of its leaders accountable for his injuries, after being slammed to the floor and knocked unconscious while trying to break up a cafeteria fight.

But the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that U.S. District Judge David Doty was correct in concluding that Ekblad had failed to prove his case merited consideration beyond the remedies provided by the states workers compensation system.

His attorney, Philip Villaume, had argued that the student, who is black, attacked Ekblad, who is white, for racial or personal reasons, which would have qualified the case for court consideration, under state law.

But Doty ruled, and the appeals court agreed, that a racially tinged comment by the student after the attack referenced not just Ekblads race, but also his role as a teacher, establishing a connection between the assault and his employment.

Ekblad collected his workers compensation benefits, and the school district paid his medical bills, the appeals court noted.

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