A civil lawsuit filed after a child was bitten by a police dog during a 2013 Red Ribbon Day field trip to the Clay County Courthouse has been settled.
Chris Stevenson, the Indianapolis attorney representing Jaxon Abbott and his parents, Michael and Gabriel Abbott of Brazil, said the child suffered scarring and nerve damage due to the incident on Oct. 17, 2013.
The Abbotts filed a civil lawsuit in Clay County against the Brazil Police Department, City of Brazil, Clay Superior Court Judge Blaine Akers and the Clay Community School Corporation.
They claimed the child, who was 11-years-old and attending Jackson Township Elementary School at the time of the incident, was placed in unnecessary danger during a skit in Akers’ courtroom.
The child was among students who participated in a “simulated drug raid” in which a small amount of marijuana was placed on some of the children lying on the floor. A trained drug dog handled by the Brazil Police Department was sent into the courtroom to sniff the children as part of the demonstration.
During that simulation, the dog bit the leg of Jaxon Abbott and had to be forcibly pried off the boy’s leg by other police officers.
The lawsuit was filed in April 2015, and was transferred one month later to Vigo County Superior Court 1. The school corporation was later dismissed from the lawsuit.
The case had been set for trial this past September.
However, separate settlement agreements were reached recently with the City of Brazil and Brazil Police Department and with the State of Indiana for Clay Superior Court and Judge Akers.
A public records request was filed by the Tribune-Star with the Office of the Indiana Attorney General. The response showed state will pay a settlement of $105,000 to the Abbott family and their attorney.
A public records request filed with the City of Brazil showed a structured settlement of $80,000 with payments to begin in 2021. The final payment will be in 2032 when the child is age 30.
Speaking on behalf of the Abbott family, Stevenson responded to a Tribune-Star request for comment about the settlement.
“We alleged that Judge Akers and the Brazil Police created a needlessly dangerous situation for elementary school children by organizing a skit where real drugs were placed on children in a court room with police drug dogs then brought in to perform a search and seizure of the drugs,” Stevenson wrote in an email.
“As a result, Jaxon Abbott received a severe bite on the back of his leg leaving scarring and nerve damage. After battling and defeating motions to dismiss filed by the judge, claiming judicial immunity, and the police, claiming they did not know the police dog would bite, the Abbotts were able to settle this matter with the defendants.”
Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.