Philadelphia Daily News, August 13, 1999

School district spends 20G to settle spanking case
By by Jim Smith, Staff Writer, Philadelphia Daily News

The School District and the city will pay $20,000 to settle claims that Overbrook High School security guards gave "the Daddy treatment" - a spanking with a wooden pole - to a student in 1996.

The settlement was approved yesterday by U.S. District Judge Anita Brody, resolving a lawsuit that was filed last year by Elizabeth China, of Walton Avenue near Felton Street, on behalf of her son, Jason.

School officials deny any spanking took place.

"The School District vehemently denies any liability," said spokesman Paul Hanson, noting that School District policy bans any form of corporal punishment.

"In these times, it's just too expensive to litigate and sometimes cheaper to settle," he added.

The case was settled "for a small fraction of the amount sought," Hanson noted.

Under terms of the settlement, Jason China will get $7,829, which will be invested for him in a mutual fund to help pay for college.

The rest goes to his lawyers to cover $8,314 in litigation costs and $3,856 in legal fees.

The legal fees represent a third of Jason's net recovery.

In court papers, Jonathan J. James, one of Jason's attorneys, told the judge the settlement was "reasonable" because Jason's injuries, "while physical and emotional, are not significant."

In the view of his lawyers, it was better to settle now rather than risk everything on a jury trial, James added.

The suit alleged that Jason and four other students were hauled out of an Overbrook classroom by security guards on Oct. 11, 1996, taken to a disciplinary office, and told to choose between "the Daddy treatment" and a five-day suspension.

All five got the spanking, the suit alleged, but Jason was the only one to sue.

The suit said Jason sustained injuries to his knees and legs, tendinitis, and emotional distress.

By the time the suit was filed in late March of last year, Jason had transferred to a private school and has since graduated.

The city contributed $5,000 to the settlement fund.

Return to Newsroom Index or to Table of Contents