Former student sues Tacoma district for allegedly not stopping beatdown

Tacoma News TribuneOctober 16, 2013 

A former Stadium High School student is suing the Tacoma Public Schools, saying the district is liable for injuries he sustained after a fellow student repeatedly punched him in the face in the school cafeteria.

The lawsuit, filed last week in Pierce County Superior Court, alleges that Mikael Wright was assaulted by another student in January 2012. Police reports indicate that the assailant accused Wright of spreading rumors about a girl, which Wright denied.

The lawsuit claims the assault occurred in front of school officials and employees but that they failed to protect Wright. Wright’s attorney, Paul Lindenmuth, said one of his client’s friends tried to intervene in the attack but that a vice principal directed him away from the scene.

School district attorney Shannon McMinimee said the district disputes the lawsuit’s contention that school staff “stood by and watched.”

She said one of Stadium’s assistant principals “attempted to break up the altercation while law enforcement and security were called to assist.”

Both former students are now 19 years old, according to school district records. Wright was 17 at the time of the attack. He and his mother, Michelle Wright, are both plaintiffs in the case, which also seeks damages from the other student.

Wright previously filed a claim for damages against the school district for $500,000 -- a prelude to the lawsuit filed last week.

Lindenmuth said Wright suffered a black eye and a fractured jaw that required surgery. He said Wright had to have his jaw wired shut for several weeks.

Wright’s assailant was arrested and the case was referred to juvenile court, according to Tacoma police reports. The News Tribune is not naming him because it typically does not identify juvenile defendants. The newspaper is naming Wright because he filed suit against a public agency.

Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635

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