The Union Recorder

Local News

July 5, 2010

Ga. top court finds teacher not liable for injury

ATLANTA — The Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday that a Forsyth County teacher can't be held liable for a student's injury during a class experiment that launched a bottle into the air like a rocket.

The court ruled in a 4-3 decision that South Forsyth Middle School teacher Patricia Grammens is protected by official immunity from liability for the injury suffered by eighth-grader David Dollar, who is now 20. The student was not wearing protective goggles when he was struck in the eye by a metal pin in 2004, which blinded him in one eye.

Grammens' attorney, Matt Moffett, said in a statement that his client made a "discretionary judgment call" that is protected under state law. Grammens did not immediately return a call for comment.

The student's father, Fred Dollar, claimed in a lawsuit that Grammens' failure to comply with local, state and federal policy led to the injury. Her attorneys argued that her decision not to require goggles was discretionary, which would give her immunity.

Judge Robert Benham, writing for the high court's majority, said the teacher had to determine whether the requirement was applicable.

Fred Dollar said he believes his son's civil rights have been violated by the courts' refusing to put the teacher on trial and giving her immunity.

"My concern is as a dad is it's going to happen to someone else and they're going to say, 'Hey, immunity,'" Dollar told The Associated Press.

He said his son, now a student at Kennesaw State University, has had five surgeries on his injured eye in the last six years and still has pain in it that sent him to the emergency room a couple of weeks ago. Dollar said his son may need a cornea transplant eventually or could lose the eye entirely.

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