Doctors at Egleston Children’s Hospital plan to amputate the right leg of a 13-year-old Muscogee County student who was severely injured last month in an alleged altercation with a teacher at a local alternative school.
With his mother at his bedside, Montravious Thomas got the traumatic news that he would lose his leg early Sunday morning. The middle school student has undergone four surgeries on his damaged leg in the past 35 days and the amputation is scheduled for late Tuesday in Atlanta.
Thomas’ confrontation with the teacher came on his first day at the new school and the student was airlifted to Atlanta later that evening after being taken home on a school bus. Since the incident on Sept. 12, his mother has tried to stay with him at the hospital as much as possible and an attorney for the family said Monday that Lawanda Thomas has lost her job with a temp service in Columbus.
“My client is certainly aware of the situation and naturally he’s emotional. Doctors talked to him and his mother on Sunday and told him they were having to take his leg since they were unable to improve the flow of blood to his lower leg. Right now we are all concerned for his long-term health,” attorney Renee Y. Tucker said.
Tucker is associated with Forrest B. Johnson & Associates, a law firm with offices in three Georgia cities. She had come by the hospital Sunday morning to look in on Thomas and was shocked when she heard the news about his leg.
“It must have been hard to explain the loss of a limb to a teenager and to prepare him for what’s ahead,” Tucker said.
The incident occurred at the Edgewood Student Services Center located in the former Edgewood Elementary School campus on Forest Road. Thomas was originally assigned to East Columbus Magnet Academy. He was referred to the AIM Program under an Individualized Education Plan provided for troubled students.
Tucker says he was the only student in the class that day. She describes a situation where his teacher wrestled the student to the floor three times after Thomas tried to leave the room and call his mother to come get him at school. He was injured the final time he hit the floor and he began to scream he was hurt. The lawyer claims an assistant principal was in the room part of the time.
“You can’t body slam a student to the floor three times and not cause injury,” the lawyer said. “And the results tell us how much physical force was exerted.”
School officials did not contact Lawanda Thomas that day and did not render medical treatment on the scene. Instead they carried him to a school bus and took him home. Mrs. Thomas later took her son to the Columbus Midtown Medical Center where doctors decided he needed to be airlifted to Egleston.
Tucker served legal papers on the school system on Sept. 29 and she awaits results of several Open Records requests she has filed with the district. She is also interested in seeing what can be learned from security cameras located in the classroom and on the school bus.
Lawyers for the student and the school district are investigating the complicated case with a potential $5 million law suit looming in the shadows. The amputation is sure to cause attorneys on both sides to look at the case differently. But Tucker said Monday that she believes the main focus should for now be on the teenager, who even before the decision to take his leg faced more than a month in the hospital with a round of physical therapy to follow.
At the same time, in an interview Monday with WTVM Tucker left no doubt that legal action is forthcoming. “We will in fact move forward with a law suit. That’s not a possibility. It is a certainty at this time,” she told the TV station.
Attorney Forrest B. Johnson said Thomas’ actions could not justify the loss of his leg. “The boy will definitely lose his leg and we believe that is absolutely inexcusable,” he told Channel 9. “Nothing that Montravious could have done would have justified the punishment that he was given.”
From a legal standpoint, the young person’s lawyers will surely question the length of time between the injury and treatment and whether a decision to take him home on a school bus might have led to additional damage to the broken leg and the flow of blood to his lower leg.
The school district has a policy that it does not comment on pending litigation.