The MacArthur Middle School Board of Education in Anne Arundel County is at the center of a lawsuit after a former teacher accidentally slammed a door on a student’s hand, severing her fingertips.
A teacher in Anne Arundel County is in hot water after the family of one of his students filed a lawsuit against him and the MacArthur Middle School Board of Education. According to the lawsuit, Steven Akers, a former teacher at the middle school, “slammed a door so hard on a student’s hand that it severed her fingers.” The suit was filed last year by the student’s father, Javier Benitez, over allegations that the former teacher and school system were negligent. At the moment, he is seeking $75,000 in damages on his daughter’s behalf.
Though the suit was filed last year, new court documents were filed earlier this month that explain in greater detail the extent of the student’s injuries. According to Benitez and the attorneys representing the family, the child’s injuries “will affect her for the rest of her life.” For example, attorney Stephen Campen said, “she was in the process of trying to teach herself how to play the piano but has had to discontinue that pursuit.”
How did the incident happen, though? According to the suit, the incident occurred on October 9, 2017, when the student “got up from her seat to ask Akers a question during French class, placing her left hand on the door jam of the class door frame.” At the same time, the teacher was attempting to get the class’ attention and ended up slamming the door shut. However, when the door closed, it slammed “directly on the student’s fingers, namely her pointer, middle and ring fingers, severing the tips of all three fingers.”
Immediately following the incident, the school principal contacted 911 and the “student was helicoptered to Union Memorial Hospital.” In pretrial statements, Campen noted the student underwent “surgery on her fingers and is permanently disfigured as a result, with significant deformities to her middle and ring fingers.” Additionally, she also suffers discomfort when she tries to write or type.
In response to the lawsuit, Senior Assistant County Attorney Philip Culpepper said the student was “leaning to look out of a window next to the door when Akers shut the door.” The school board also conducted an investigation following the incident and determined “Akers was not at fault for the incident because he did not try to intentionally injure the student.” Nonetheless, he ended up resigning from the school in February 2018.
A trial to settle the matter is scheduled for June 18.