Watertown teacher signs settlement

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A state hearing officer has accepted the decision by the Watertown school district and the Associated School Boards of South Dakota workers’ compensation fund to pay $500,000 to a kindergarten teacher injured by a student throwing a chair into her left leg and knee.

Michelle Pieper also received in the settlement a waiver of an estimated $180,000 for various costs stemming from the March 2, 2017, incident. Her attorneys’ fees of $199,037.10 and related sales tax of $12,937.41 will be subtracted, leaving a net $265,532.46.

The sides agreed there wouldn’t be any further pursuit of the claim.

“(Pieper) acknowledges that her physical and/or mental condition may change for the worse, deteriorate, and/or become aggravated which may result in the need for additional medical treatment in the future, and that this probability is well known to her. Despite this knowledge, (she) hereby agrees to waive and release any claims she may have to reopen this claim under SDCL 65-7-33,” said the release signed by Pieper.

Her husband, Jason Pieper, brought the matter to the attention of South Dakota legislators last year and Representative Nancy York, a Watertown Republican, sponsored HB 1242 for him. The House Commerce and Energy Committee defeated it 7-5.

The legislation originally sought to require that a person providing health or medical care to an employee covered by a case management plan also provide the patient copies of all correspondence with the health policy provider and employer. The person providing the care also would be prohibited from misrepresenting the employee’s identity, credentials or duties.

Jason Pieper said he plans another attempt in the 2022 legislative session.

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