Law Firm Secures Settlement for Special Needs Student in Lee County

The personal injury and abuse law firm of Balkan & Patterson successfully secured a settlement of $200,000 on Friday, March 8, for a family whose child was physically abused by his kindergarten teacher at Gulf Elementary School in Lee County, FL.

“We have achieved justice for our clients, but the damage done to this child was unthinkable,” said the family’s attorney, Adam Balkan. Balkan, a board certified civil trial attorney, handles a variety of special needs child abuse cases throughout the state of Florida. “At the very least, we have protected other unsuspecting families and children from a similar fate.”

Several local media outlets covered the settlement, including The Cape Coral Breeze, The Naples Daily News, The Fort Myers News-Press,  the Marco Island News, along with ABC Channel 7 Fort Myers Port Charlotte.

The child, whose name and age are withheld to maintain privacy, is a low functioning, non-verbal special needs student with very limited abilities to communicate with his parents or the outside world. While a student in the classroom of Catherine Hile, his teacher, she subjected him to physical violence and abuse. Hile’s actions were seen by a number of teachers’ aides, who reported the abuse to the school’s administration. Our investigation uncovered Hile’s history, which showed she was unfit to teach these children.

“When a parent or a family makes a decision to enroll their child in a school, they expect it to be a safe haven away from harm where good habits, behaviors and life skills are learned. Unfortunately for our client, this was not the case. He suffered violence from the very person who was supposed to care for him – not to mention the responsibility the school board had to protect him,” Balkan said.

The school board was aware of should have been aware of Hile’s lack of fitness, yet she remained in her classroom and continued to abuse our client. It was not until near the end of the school year that she was removed from her position. She had a prior history of complaints of violence toward students at another school, and the School Board of Lee County failed to properly evaluate and supervise  this teacher.

This lawsuit was filed in the United State District Court, Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division, and the court has approved the settlement.

Balkan & Patterson, LLP was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, at 601 S. Federal Highway, Suite 302. All of the firm’s partners are board certified civil trial attorneys, a distinction that fewer than 1 percent of attorneys in the state have achieved.

Mr. Balkan can be contacted at (561) 750-9191. Additional information about Balkan & Patterson, LLP may be obtained from the firm’s website

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