Kenneth Suttner wrongful death lawsuit sent back to circuit court

3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 1:01:00 PM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
By: Abby Dodge, KOMU 8 News reporter and Steve Lambson, News Content Manager

JEFFERSON CITY - A federal judge sent the lawsuit over Kenneth Suttner's death back to circuit court on Friday after granting a motion to dismiss from the Howard County R-II school district.

“We have said from the beginning, the loss of any student, no matter the reason, including Kenneth Suttner, is a tragedy," said the school district's general council Tom Mickes. "It doesn’t make the tragedy any less tragic when other people’s lives are turned upside down.”

Angela Suttner, Kenneth's mother, filed the lawsuit in July, a year and a half after her son committed suicide. Angela Suttner said in her lawsuit Kenneth's death came as a result of bullying at school, including by district employees, because of his mental and physical disabilities. She also said the district didn't do enough to stop bullying against Kenneth or others.

The case went to federal court in August, but Judge Willie Epps, Jr. sent it back to Howard County court, saying Angela Suttner's case failed to state a claim.

“We believe that it failed to state claims under state law. We believe some of the claims are barred by the statue of limitations," Mickes said. "We believe that others are barred by sovereign immunity and others by individual immunity, so those are the legal issues that have to be sorted out in Howard County circuit.”

No date has been set for a next proceeding in Howard County. The school district plans to file a motion to dismiss all of the state claims within the next 30 days. 

Read Judge Epps' order here.

Harley Branham, a former manager at the Dairy Queen where Kenneth Suttner worked, faces charges of harassment and stalking. Prosecutors dropped a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

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