Ruth signs protective order in case against O'Fallon school district

Ann Maher Nov. 17, 2011, 6:48am



Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth has ordered settlement documents reached with Alton school officials be kept confidential.

Ruth signed a protective order Nov. 4 in a lawsuit against a former high school teacher and O'Fallon School District 203.

Plaintiff Jane Doe claims former music teacher Matthew Lang had an inappropriate relationship with her teenage daughter when she attended high school in Alton. In the lawsuit filed two years ago, the mother claims the O'Fallon school district and its teachers union concealed information about Lang's prior inappropriate relationships with students when Alton school officials sought information about him during an employment search.

Doe's original complaint named Lang as well as Alton school officials. She later dropped the Alton defendants, apparently following settlement, and amended the complaint to include the O'Fallon defendants.

The O'Fallon Federation of Teachers already settled with Doe for an undisclosed sum.

Regarding a settlement with Alton Community Unit School District 11 and its board of education, Ruth wrote, "The Subject Documents shall be disclosed only to counsel for Defendant O'Fallon School District No. 203, and counsel shall only disclose the Subject Documents to their client and those individuals retained by counsel who are assisting in the preparation of this action for trial. The Subject Documents shall be utilized solely in this present action."

Ruth's order goes on to state that any documents under the scope of the order must be filed under seal. Sealed documents may only be filed after a hearing is held and the court approves sealing the documents, the order states.

"Following the completion of this case, including any and all appeals and remands, all copies of Subject Documents shall be returned to Defendant's counsel within 45 days," the order states.

"The obligations of this Protective Order shall survive termination of this action and the Court shall have jurisdiction over the parties to enforce this Protective Order

In other recent developments in the case, several depositions were scheduled to take place this week, including that of Lang, who is incarcerated at Big Muddy Correctional Facility in Ina. He pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with his involvement with Doe's daughter.

The plaintiffs also were scheduled to be deposed on Nov. 14 in Alton.

Trial is scheduled to begin in May 2012 with discovery set to wrap up in the early part of next year.

Thomas O. Falb of Williamson, Webster, Falb & Glisson represents the plaintiffs.

James Craney and David P. Bub of Brown & James in St. Louis represents the O'Fallon District.

Madison County case number 09-L-886.

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