Parents want defenses of bus driver accused of duct-taping student stricken

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Oct 3, 2013

The parents of a minor student filed a motion to strike the defendant’s affirmative defenses in a lawsuit alleging a bus driver duct taped the boy’s arms together during his ride to school.

According to the complaint filed on April 23, Robert Wainner and Kristina Miller, parents of the boy identified as A.W., claim their son was riding on the school bus operated by Durham School Services on April 24, 2012, when bus monitor Gertrude Gebhart allegedly restrained the boy’s body and arms with duct tape.

According to the motion to strike, the plaintiffs claim Gebhart failed to give specific facts to support her argument and failed to allege any affirmative defense relevant to the claim for battery, assault and negligence brought against her.

The affirmative defenses, filed by Gebhart on July 11, state that she was acting in defense of herself, protecting the student from harming himself and that the bus was not equipped with the required safety straps.

Gebhart is accused of negligently failing to render aid to A.W. after causing him injuries and failed to seek help when she saw A.W. was hurt, the suit states.

Durham is accused of negligently failing to incorporate appropriate hiring guidelines into its practices, failing to create adequate policies on its buses, failing to adequately train its employees on how to handle children with special needs, failing to supervise its employees to ensure the safety of children transported on the buses and exposed A.W. to harm.

The plaintiffs seek a judgment of more than $700,000.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson was reassigned to the case on July 26. He scheduled a status conference for Dec. 9 at 9 a.m.

Clay B. St. Clair and Natalie S. Steppig of Crowder & Scoggins, LTD. in Columbia represent the plaintiffs.

Thomas J. Smith of Fox Galvin, LLC in St. Louis represents Durham School Services.

Beth C. Boggs and James P. McCune, III of Boggs, Avellino, Lach & Boggs, LLC in St. Louis; and Cynthia Ramirez of Chicago represents Gebhart.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 13-L-212

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