United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MARC SURACI, JR., a minor suing by and through his father and next friend, MARC SURACI, SR., Plaintiff,
HAMDEN BOARD OF EDUCATION, BARBARA NANA, ROBIN RICCITELLI, ERIN BAILEY, and HOWARD HORNREICH, Defendants.
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
BLOND ARTERTON, U.S.D.J.
a schoolchild with autism who received special education
services at Hamden's elementary schools during the time
period of the allegations in his complaint, brings this
action through his father and next friend Marc Suraci, Sr.
against the Hamden Board of Education and certain of its
officials and employees: Barbara Nana (Spring Glen Elementary
School Principal), Robin Riccitelli (Coordinator for
Elementary Special Education for the Hamden Board of
Education), Erin Bailey (Dunbar Hill School Principal), and
Howard Hornreich (successor Principal of Spring Glen).
originally claimed violations of "the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101,
etseq., Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of
1973, 29 U.S.C. §§ 794(a), et sea., and
the Constitution and laws of the United States and the State
of Connecticut [, ]" and further claims that certain
conduct of Riccitelli was "extreme and outrageous and
constituted the intentional infliction of emotional distress
upon the plaintiff in violation of Connecticut common
law." (Compl. [Doc. # 1] ¶ 1, 27.)
argue that Plaintiffs ADA and Section 504 claims must be
dismissed due to Plaintiffs failure to exhaust his
administrative remedies under the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act. (Defs.' Mem. Law Supp. Mot.
Summ. J. [Doc. # 23-1] at 5-6.) Plaintiff agrees that he did
not exhaust these remedies and that his ADA and Section 504
claims are therefore precluded. (Pl's Br. Opp'n Mot.
Summ. J. [Doc. # 26] at 1.) Accordingly, summary judgement
will be entered in favor of Defendants on these claims.
respect to Defendants Bailey and Hornreich, Plaintiff offers
no factual allegations of any personal involvement by them
related to deprivations of Plaintiffs rights. (See
generally Compl.) Accordingly, summary judgment will be
entered in their favor on all claims.
only remaining claim is Plaintiffs IIED claim against Robin
Riccitelli, (see Compl. ¶ 27), relating to her
conduct on March 14, 2014. On that date, Riccitelli states
that she "was called to Spring Glen Elementary School
due to safety concerns regarding" Plaintiff, based on
his indications that he wished to kill or harm other students
or teachers, unsolicited notes from students who were hurt or
scared by him, and a list written by Plaintiff of students
and teachers labeled "Subjects for Weapon X[.]"
(Ex. E (Riccitelli Aff.) to Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. [Doc. #
23-7] ¶ 8.) According to Riccitelli, "[d]ue to
these and other incidents, it was decided that... it would be
best for [Plaintiff] to have an emergency evaluation."
(Id. ¶ 9.)
to Plaintiffs father, on that day, after he dropped Plaintiff
off, he received a call from the school telling him to
return. (Ex. B (Marc Suraci, Sr. Dep.) to Defs.' Mot.
Summ. J. [Doc. # 23-4] at 6.) After Mr. Suraci returned, he
saw a fire engine and ambulance and was brought into a room
with Ms. Riccitelli, who told him they believed his son was
in crisis and needed to go to the Yale psychiatric ward.
(Id. at 7.) Riccitelli told Mr. Suraci that they
were going to take Plaintiff there from school because he
threatened to bring a weapon to school, showing Mr. Suraci
Plaintiffs drawing of "Weapon X" and the student
letters. (Id.) Mr. Suraci questioned how his son
could be in crisis so soon after he left him when he appeared
fine and told Riccitelli that "Weapon X" was merely
a Marvel cartoon character, "like Spiderman[, ]"
not a weapon, reflecting Plaintiffs interest in Marvel
characters. (Id. at 7-8.)
told Mr. Suraci "there's nothing you can do about
it" and asserted that "[i]t's the law, and
we're taking him." (Id. at 8.) Mr. Suraci
told Riccitelli "[y]ou cannot put him in that
ambulance[, ]" offering, "if he's in crisis, I
will take him[, ]" and explaining that "[t]he last
time he saw his mother was getting taken away in the
ambulance [, ]" so "[t]o do that would be so
damaging." (Id.) Riccitelli responded
"[t]here's nothing you can do about it."
to Riccitelli, because Mr. Suraci "would not agree to an
emergency evaluation [, ]" Riccitelli called 911 after
consulting with the Acting Superintendent. (Riccitelli Aff.
¶ 10-11.) Plaintiff "was eventually brought to the
main office at his father's request, but when [Plaintiff]
reached the lobby the police arrived at the same time."
(Id. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff began "pleading with
[the police] not to take" his father away. (Suraci Dep.
at 9.) Plaintiff "thought they were going to take"
his father, and given "his issues with abandonment and
watching his mother leave, he was very upset about"
this. (Id.) Plaintiff told police "[p]lease
don't take my father[, ]" "[m]y mother died of
cancer" and "[h]e's the only person I have;
he's a good guy." (Id.)
undisputed that Riccitelli said nothing in Plaintiffs
presence about either his father being taken away from him or
about Plaintiff himself being taken involuntarily in an
ambulance. (See Riccitelli Aff. ¶¶ 13-14.)
Eventually a conversation was held with Riccitelli, Nana, Mr.
Suraci, and the police, and Plaintiff was permitted to leave
school to go home with his father and was not transported
involuntarily anywhere. (Id. ¶ 17.)
Hamden Board of Education Policy 5131.21, on which Richitelli
claims to have relied in her actions, states: "... [A]ny
school employee who may have knowledge of a threat or act of
violence must take the proper steps to report this
information to the school principal who will, in turn, notify
the appropriate school officials, the student's family
and appropriate resource services." (Ex. A to Riccitelli
the circumstance which Plaintiff claims to be extreme and
outrageous was Riccitelli's summoning the ambulance to
the school to transport Plaintiff involuntarily to a
psychiatric hospital knowing Plaintiffs traumatic
associations with ambulances and subjecting Plaintiff to
great distress when Plaintiff interpreted the presence of
emergency responders as coming for his father.
for IIED must establish four elements. "It must be
shown: (1) that the actor intended to inflict emotional
distress; or that he knew or should have known that emotional
distress was a likely result of his conduct; (2) that the
conduct was extreme and outrageous; (3) that the
defendant's conduct was the cause of the plaintiffs
distress and (4) that the emotional distress sustained by the
plaintiff was severe." Petyan v. Ellis, 200
Conn. 243, 253 (1986).
conduct falls well short of what reasonable minds could
differ on as to whether it was extreme and outrageous.
Moreover, there is no evidence Riccitelli's actions were
"especially calculated to cause" Plaintiff
"[serious] mental distress," DeLaurentis v.
City of New Haven,220 Conn. 225, 267 (1991) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted), even though they
likely did. Riccitelli had a factual and reasonable basis for
her actions, unlike the false accusation of a student's
criminal conduct by a school official in Zulawski v.
Standi, No. CV05000203S, 2006 WL 2089470, at *4 (Conn.
Super. Ct. July 14, 2006). Riccitelli did not humiliate,
embarrass or mistreat Plaintiff in any way, in contrast to
the teacher in Baird ex rel. Baird v. Rose, who