Just ask Gonzo: Playground horseplay suit settles

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 8, 2006, 3:31am

Question: One of my favorite stories was about the playground teacher at Godfrey's middle school who sued one of the students who supposedly injured her because of horseplay on the playground. How funny is this? Can you check to see if the parents actually paid this lady $50,000 please?

Kirk Downs
Tilden, Ill.

Gonzo: Kirk, a quick answer is yes, the parents paid the money. How much, however, is confidential as the case settled out of court last year.

Patricia Belk, a cafeteria monitor at North Middle School in Godfrey filed suit Jan. 7, 2005, alleging she got caught in the middle horseplay and sued the student and his parents for more than $50,000 for neck and back injuries she allegedly sustained.

Belk alleged that on Jan. 13, 2004, at 11:50 a.m., Brian Edelen, "was negligent and careless while horseplaying and scuffling with another student while other people were in close proximity."

As a result of Edelen's negligence, Belk alleges the other student involved in the horseplay was thrown into her and caused her injuries. In the suit she claims pain and suffering, disability, medical expenses and lost wages.

Belk also was seeking damages from Harold and Mary Edelen, parents of Brian, an un-emancipated minor who "willfully and maliciously engaged in horseplay resulting in him pushing another student into Belk," according to the suit. The incident caused Belk to incur medical and hospital expenses in excess of $2,500.

In August of 2005, Lance Mallon, Belk's lawyer, filed a motion to dismiss the suit with prejudice because the parties settled. Former Circuit Judge George Moran signed the order dismissing the suit but forgot to close the file.

Last month, Circuit Judge Lola Maddox, who is filling the rest of Moran's term, closed the file after reviewing files assigned to her.

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