Federal jury rules against families in school ‘isolation booth’ lawsuit

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A federal jury has decided that the Longview School District did not violate the constitutional rights of five former students who claimed they were placed inside an isolation booth at an elementary school.

KOIN-TV reports the jury began deliberations last Thursday and returned the verdict on Wednesday.

The jury awarded the families no money. The families were seeking nearly $18 million in damages, including lost wages, salaries and employment opportunities.

The former students allege that former special education teacher Jerry Stein illegally placed them inside a 4-by-4-foot isolation booth when they were general education students. State law at the time prohibited use of restraint and isolation on general education students for non-emergency reasons.

School district lawyer Francis Floyd had sought to convince jurors that the plaintiffs failed to meet their burden of proof.

The families have 30 days to decide whether to appeal.