Dennis Dzuck sued for assault on Fridley High student
The mother of a Fridley High School student is suing a former teacher she says beat her son bloody in the principal's office two years ago.
Dennis Dzuck was convicted of assaulting a 15-year-old student last year, and was placed on two years of probation by an Anoka County Judge. That student's family has now filed a federal lawsuit against Dzuck and the Fridley school district, claiming the kid suffered serious emotional distress from the assault.
"The harm to my client was incredibly traumatic," says Stephen Cooper, attorney for Cynthia Garza, the mother. "It was incredibly physically frightening and physically harmful, and also therefore very emotionally harmful."
Because the kid is still a minor, he's not identified by name in the lawsuit. We'll call him Brian.
On March 18, 2009, Dzuck got into an argument with a student signing into the Fridley High office who refused to take off his hat, according to the lawsuit. Brian was in line too, and made a comment that didn't sit well with Dzuck.
Exactly what Brian said is up for debate. Cooper says the comment was completely innocent, and actually directed at the kid wearing the hat.
"My client said to the other student, 'It's no big deal'," he says.
Dzuck misunderstood the comment, and became agitated, Cooper says. "He was just angry, and you know how people get when they're angry, they're not really listening. And when my client was trying to talk the other kid into mellowing out, the teacher then transferred his irritation at the other student onto my client."
However, other reports of the encounter after Dzuck's criminal charges say Brian swore at him.
Either way, Dzuck brought Brian into an empty principal's office. After shutting the door, he began pushing Brian, according to the lawsuit:
"After Plaintiff was on the floor, Defendant Dzuck grabbed him by the neck and slammed Plaintiff's head against a metal register several times, while choking Plaintiff. During his attack, Defendant Dzuck said 'I'll show you what a man will do.'"
When Dzuck walked out of the office, he allegedly told another faculty member to "clean the blood off the walls."
Brian was taken to a hospital for treatment.
In April 2010, Dzuck was convicted on two accounts of public misconduct, one count of fifth-degree assault, and one count of disorderly conduct. A judge sentenced him to two years of unsupervised probation.
Brian's family filed the lawsuit in March 2011 against Dzuck and the Fridley school district. The suit alleges assault and battery, false imprisonment, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It asks that a jury determine how much money Brian deserves in restitution.
James Knudsen, attorney for Dzuck, warns it's still early in the case, and no facts have been established on the record.
"All I can say is that the case is in its infancy," he says. "Nothing has happened on the case -- it's still very early."
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