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updated: 10/12/2017 5:37 PM

Student beaten by classmate sues District U-46, South Elgin middle school

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  • Henry Sembdner and his family are suing Elgin Area School District U-46 and Kenyon Woods Middle School administrators after the boy was injured by a classmate in a February attack.

    Henry Sembdner and his family are suing Elgin Area School District U-46 and Kenyon Woods Middle School administrators after the boy was injured by a classmate in a February attack.

 
 

The family of Henry Sembdner, left unconscious after a beating by a classmate, has sued a South Elgin middle school and Elgin Area School District U-46, arguing they knew the attacker was dangerous and that the school failed to provide adequate care after he was injured.

The suit states district officials and the Kenyon Woods administration knew, or should have known, of the danger posed by the attacker, identified in the suit as John Doe because he is a minor.

"Doe had a significant and lengthy history of behavioral infractions, including prior violent attacks against other students that resulted in physical injury, and was known by the defendants to pose an impending danger to other students," read part of the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.

According to the suit, Doe assaulted Sembdner in February in a school hallway where there were no security cameras and previous assaults had occurred. Doe picked up Sembdner and slammed him to the ground headfirst, rendering him unconscious.

Afterward, the suit claims, the school nurse failed to provide adequate and responsive care to Sembdner, who was bleeding, and ignored a teacher's plea to call 911. Instead, the nurse called the boy's mom, saying he had a bloody nose and broken tooth, but "did not reveal the full extent of Henry's injuries or the fact he was unconscious at one point. In truth, Henry had sustained severe trauma to his brain and multiple fractures to his face and skull."

In the ensuing 45 minutes, Sembdner's eye bulged due to brain swelling and he became nauseous before the nurse called 911, according to the suit. On the way to the hospital he suffered seizures.

Doe, now at another school, pleaded guilty earlier this year to aggravated battery and was sentenced to a year of probation and 100 hours community service. He wrote an apology letter to Sembdner -- now in eighth grade at Kenyon Woods -- and is subject to random drug tests.

"We have not yet been served with the lawsuit and we don't comment on litigation," U46 spokeswoman Mary Fergus said.

A message left with Sembdner family attorney Lance Northcutt was not returned.

The lawsuit is due in court Dec. 21.

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