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Swim team assault suit against School Board dismissed
Change of venue from Ellsworth to Barton county also granted
Court Gavel

 ELLSWORTH – A judge dismissed the lawsuit filed against the Unified School District 428 School Board and school officials by a Great Bend woman in connection with the assault of her son on a Great Bend High School school bus in February, the attorney for the mother said Thursday afternoon.

Great Bend attorney Brock McPherson said the hearing took place in Ellsworth County District Court Thursday. He said the action against the School Board was dismissed on a technicality without prejudice, or in other words, it can be refiled which he intends to do.

McPherson said USD 428 argued that it should be considered a municipality. As such, it must be given 120 days to answer once it receives the notice of a pending lawsuit and this did not happen.

District Judge Ron Svaty concurred and granted the motion to dismiss, McPherson said. Now, he said he will follow these guidelines and refile.

The dismissal also included USD 428 Superintendent Brad Reed; Activities Director David Meter; swim coaches Steve Beaumont and Keith Moeder; GBHS Principal Tim Friess; and bus driver Marilyn Holinde. However, he said the hearing and motion Thursday did not involve the remaining parties the parents of four youths who allegedly battered the woman’s son on the way home from a swim meet.

The action was initially filed in Ellsworth County on May 9 by Michelle ONeil against Great Bend USD 428, its school board, administrators and others on behalf of her son.

But, in another motion granted by Svaty Thursday, there will be a change of venue to Barton County, McPherson said.

Both of the two teens charged with the assault have already been sentenced to probation in Ellsworth County District Court, each on a single count of battery done in a rude manner.   

The suit states in part:

ONeil’s son was enrolled as a freshman at GBHS and was on the swim team. On or about Saturday Feb. 6, the team participated in a swim meet in Manhattan. During the return bus trip four juveniles physically attacked the plaintiff in Ellsworth County. They restrained him and attempted to remove his clothing. While continuing to restrain the plaintiff, they attempted to spread his buttocks and insert various objects into his rectum.

The attack caused physical and emotional injury to the plaintiff.

The suit seeks compensation for damages in excess of $75,000 on each of five counts, plus $5,000 in damages per family from the parents listed as defendants. That brings the total requested to more than $395,000, plus punitive compensation.