845 F.2d 325 (6th Cir. 1988), 87-5331, Darden by and through Darden v. Watkins

Docket Nº:87-5331
Citation:845 F.2d 325
Party Name:Jimmy Allen DARDEN, a Minor Under the Age of 18 Years, By and Through His Parents and Guardians, L.H. DARDEN and Emoline Darden, as Next Friends of Jimmy Allen Darden, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Ron WATKINS and Russellville Independent Board of Education, By and Through Its Superintendent, Jim Young; Joe Hardy, Chairman of Russellville Board of Educat
Case Date:April 28, 1988
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Page 325

845 F.2d 325 (6th Cir. 1988)

Jimmy Allen DARDEN, a Minor Under the Age of 18 Years, By and Through His Parents and Guardians, L.H. DARDEN and Emoline Darden, as Next Friends of Jimmy Allen Darden, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Ron WATKINS and Russellville Independent Board of Education, By and Through Its Superintendent, Jim Young; Joe Hardy, Chairman of Russellville Board of Education; Jerry White; Tom Luckett; David Smith; and Janet Menser, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 87-5331

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

April 28, 1988

Editorial Note:

This opinion appears in the Federal reporter in a table titled "Table of Decisions Without Reported Opinions". (See FI CTA6 Rule 28 and FI CTA6 IOP 206 regarding use of unpublished opinions) W.D.Ky.


On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.

Before MILBURN and BOGGS, Circuit Judges, and CELEBREZZE, Senior Circuit Judge.


Plaintiff-appellant Jimmy Allen Darden, a minor, by and through his parents and guardians, L.H. Darden and Emoline Darden, appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants-appellees Ron Watkins ("Watkins") and the Russellville Independent Board of Education ("the Board" or "the Board of Education"), Russellville, Kentucky, in this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants' use of corporal punishment in the Stevenson Elementary School in Russellville, Kentucky, violated plaintiff's rights under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Because we find that the evidence does not present a "genuine issue as to any material fact," see Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), we affirm.


Plaintiff filed his complaint on March 22, 1984, alleging that on or about September 30, 1983, Watkins, then a teacher in the Russellville Independent School District's Stevenson Elementary School, administered corporal punishment which was "unreasonable, had excessive force, caused permanent injury, was improperly administered and was utilized in an improper method upon the plaintiff." J.A. at 9. Plaintiff further alleged that the rules and regulations of defendants regarding the application of corporal punishment are "vague, arbitrary and capricious so as to allow a violation of ... plaintiff's constitutional rights." J.A. at 10. According to the complaint, plaintiff received this punishment for failing to place a homework assignment on the desk of his teacher, Watkins, in a timely manner as requested.

On April 17, 1984, defendants answered the plaintiff's complaint, essentially denying the pertinent allegations thereof, and the case proceeded to discovery. Thereafter, several depositions were taken including the depositions of plaintiff and Watkins.

Watkins testified that he was the plaintiff's fourth grade homeroom teacher at the time of the incident alleged in the complaint, and that he had established in his homeroom various rules regarding the conduct of his students. One of these rules was that students who did not complete homework assignments would receive a paddling. He testified that this rule was written on his classroom's blackboard at the beginning of the school year and explained to students in a way, he felt, they could understand.

Evidently, plaintiff had a problem with completing his homework. Watkins testified that on various occasions he had discussed with plaintiff the importance of homework, and further that plaintiff's parents had been contacted about plaintiff's work and general performance in school.

On September 30, 1983, plaintiff was in Watkins' class and had not completed his homework. Watkins used a paddle and spanked plaintiff, along with another child who had not completed his work. Both were given one "lick" with a paddle. According to Watkins, plaintiff then "went into orbit ... screaming and disrupting the class." J.A. at 165. As a result, plaintiff was paddled a second time:

I got a hold of him and said, now, Jimmy, you need to calm down or I'll have to give you another one. So I gave him one other swat on the bottom and got very close to his face and told him that if he didn't calm down, that he would receive a third lick. At that point, he immediately stopped, sat down in his chair, and he went on--it was about time to change classes.

J.A. at 166.

Plaintiff, when deposed, testified that he was aware that a failure to complete homework assignments could result in a paddling. He testified, however, that on the day in question he had in fact completed his work but was unable to find it. According to plaintiff, Watkins did not believe him and thus proceeded to administer three "licks" with a paddle:

I told him I couldn't find it, and he brought me up there and he bent me over and gave me one lick and I cried and went back to my desk. And he brought me back again and gave me another lick and he hit me so hard he hurt my leg and I limped and bumped my back and I begged him not to hit me anymore, and he hit me again.

J.A. at 263.

Emoline Darden ("Mrs. Darden"), plaintiff's mother, was also deposed, and she testified that she discovered bruises on plaintiff's buttocks while bathing him. Initially, plaintiff lied to his mother and stated that his bruises were the result of a fall; however, when his mother protested that the marks did not comport with a fall, plaintiff admitted that he had been paddled at school. Later that evening, Mrs. Darden, becoming concerned, took plaintiff to the emergency room at a local hospital. There he was examined by an emergency room physician who observed a three- to four-inch area of reddish-blue discoloration over the fleshy part of plaintiff's left buttock, which the physician noted could have been caused by paddling.

On October 22, 1984, plaintiff moved for summary judgment, requesting that the district court enter an order declaring the rules and regulations of the defendant Board of Education inadequate and unconstitutional, and further requesting that the court order the Board to adopt procedures regarding corporal punishment consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment. On the same day, defendants also moved for summary judgment, asserting that the rules and regulations of the Board of Education are constitutionally adequate and that the corporal punishment administered to the plaintiff was reasonable. Defendants asserted that the actions of the Board of Education were consistent with both plaintiff's procedural and...

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