On September 30, 2008, Patrick Sauceda was injured while working as a teacher for the Fresno Unified School District. He injured his head, left eye, and left knee following a physical attack by a student. The case was resolved by a Stipulations with Request for Award on December 13, 2010.
He then filed a Petition for Increased Benefits for Serious and Willful Misconduct of Employer. He alleges thad his industrial injury was the result of being assaulted by a special education student who had been previously identified and known to the School District to be a person with propensities for causing serious injury to others and who had stated on more than one occasion that he intended to kill or cause serious injury to Mr. Sauceda.
He claimed that the special education program manager, Nancy Miser, “was advised that a specific student in applicant’s classroom had a prior history of physically attacking two different teachers on separate occasions at a previous school [and] that this student had made specific threats that he intended to kill or seriously injury applicant,” but Ms. Miser refused a request to move the student to “another emotionally disturbed program on another campus,” stating that “applicant would have to find a way to deal with the student.”
The classroom had no radio or telephone for use in case of emergency.
The WCJ awarded Serious and Willful Misconduct benefits. Reconsideration was denied in the split panel decision of Sauceda v Fresno Unified School District.
Labor Code section 4553, a finding of liability is appropriate where the employer 1) knew of the dangerous condition; 2) knew that the probable consequences of the continuance of that condition would involve serious injury to an employee; and 3) deliberately failed to take corrective action.
“Here, it is undisputed that defendant knew of the dangerous condition. Defendant has admitted to knowing that the student assailant had a prior history of physically attacking two different teachers on separate occasions at a previous school and that this student had made specific threats that he intended to kill or seriously injury applicant.”
Applicant has amply shown that defendant deliberately failed to take corrective action. Defendant has made no attempt to deny that, when presented with the evidence from the student assailant’s file, the administrative team at applicant’s place of work declined to take any action to remove the student assailant from applicant’s classroom.