Renner-Lewis' Family Heads To Mediation Over Suit Against
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 12, 2005
KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN--The family of Michael Renner-Lewis III has agreed to sit down with officials of the school where he died in order to settle their $25 million lawsuit and avoid going to court.
The 15-year-old who had autism died on August 25, 2003 -- the first day of school at Parchment High -- after being restrained facedown by school staff.
While autopsy results listed Michael's cause of death as "prolonged physical restraint in prone position associated with extreme mental and motor agitation", criminal charges were not filed because the county medical examiner ruled it an accident.
According to various accounts, school officials said Michael had a seizure early in the day. He recovered from the seizure, but soon became agitated. Four staff members "tried to quiet" the 6-foot, 165-pound teen by restraining him on his stomach. Each grabbed one of his limbs and sat down on the floor next to him in a room behind the school auditorium, police said.
At some point Michael closed his eyes and stopped breathing. Attempts to revive him were not successful.
The family is suing the Parchment School District, Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency and their employees for assault and battery, false arrest and imprisonment, gross negligence and violation of the 15-year-old's constitutional rights.
The Kalamazoo Gazette reported Monday that a previous mediation session failed. If the sides cannot reach an agreement, the case is scheduled to go to trial at the end of February.
The mediation does not affect a suit filed in May of this year by Autism Society of Michigan and the Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service. The advocacy groups want a federal court to order the school to implement rules regarding restraint techniques, and to train school staff on how and when to use or not use restraints.
"Mediation sought in Parchment suit" (Kalamazoo Gazette)
"The Death of Michael Renner-Lewis III" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)