$6,500 settles PE class punch lawsuit

By From page A3 | August 08, 2014

VACAVILLE — A $6,500 settlement has been reached in the lawsuit filed for a 15-year-old punched in the face by an 18-year-old Vacaville High School student as the two walked to locker rooms after a basketball game during P.E. class at Vacaville High School.

Ryan Lee Warstler, who is now 20, will pay $4,500 and the Vacaville School District will provide $2,000 to the student Warstler struck March 30, 2012.

Ten monthly payments of $150 by Warstler will follow his $3,000 payment, according to court records. Payments are due starting in August after the settlement reached in June for the case filed in 2013.

Medical bills for the 15-year-old sophomore, who was covered by health insurance, totaled $63,555, according to court records. He had a broken nose, cuts to his face, a broken tooth and his right eye was swollen shut.

Attorney Kevin Dehoff, representing the school district, said in a settlement conference statement that competitive basketball games where both teams are trying to win will necessarily have some physical contact. Dehoff said the two students had argued after the 15-year-old fouled Warstler during the game.

“There was nothing the school could have done to prevent the attack,” the attorney stated of the punch that followed the game.

The 15-year-old continued to excel at wrestling, Dehoff added, and documents he filed included a photo of one of the teen’s many victories in high school wrestling matches.

Dehoff said the 15-year-old’s family had a potentially meritorious claim against Warstler but a frivolous case against the Vacaville district, apparently sued because it represented a “deep pockets” defendant, he said.

The attorney said counsel for the 15-year-old offered to settle with the school district for $20,000 but the district rejected that offer. The school district is concerned about opening a floodgate of lawsuits if it compensated a frivolous claim, Dehoff said.

Attorney Robert Barnett, who represented the injured minor, said in a settlement statement that a P. E. teacher never noticed heated arguments on the basketball court or Warstler hanging on the rim during the game. The 15-year-old bore the embarrassment of attending high school with a purple face because of bruises he sustained because of the punch, the attorney said.

The basketball court layout, depicted in a satellite image included in court documents, meant it was difficult for one teacher to supervise all students without walking around to view each court, Barnett stated. The 15-year-old cannot breathe clearly out of one nostril and surgery is expected to cost between $15,000 to $20,000, the attorney added.

Vacaville police arrested Warstler on suspicion battery after the incident and he later pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery. He was sentenced to 90 days, with 30 days in custody.

Warstler completed a 16-hour anger management course in 2013.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]

Ryan McCarthy


Discussion | 3 comments

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  • gemmaAugust 08, 2014 - 8:07 am

    A settlement that is a tenth of the cost of the victims injuries is vile. Set his embarrassment aside. He has problems breathing, he has a broken tooth, and he was NOT protected at the school. The schools don't care about the students, just the money the student bring by attending class. Remember the Vaca Pena teacher who had her collarbone broken when she was tripped by a delinquent student? School didn't back her, they called the student "special needs" because of his alleged ADD, and now the teacher no longer works there.

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  • BSAugust 08, 2014 - 8:19 am

    What they don't mention in this article is that the "victim" has a reputation for being a trouble maker and the "defendant" did not!!

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  • Mr. Green ValleyAugust 08, 2014 - 8:32 am

    What the judge should have said is let kids be kids. Both of them were at fault. What we can't do is take sports, or normal kid activities from these kids. The litigious nature of our society will soon come to the point where we will be afraid to communicate with each-other or won't allow another to step onto our property. It's petty, nor should this have made the news.

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