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School district files for comp for former teacher shot by student

teacher shot

A Virginia school district being sued for $40 million by a former teacher who was shot by a young student has filed a workers compensation claim on behalf of the woman even though a case is playing out in civil court over the incident.

The Newport News Public Schools announced Monday that it filed for workers comp benefits for Abigail Zwerner one year to the day that she was shot by a 6-year-old. There is a two-year statute of limitations for filing a claim.

Ms. Zwerner declined workers comp, instead opting to sue the school district. A judge has allowed the lawsuit to proceed.

“Our research has determined that there is legal authority allowing an employer to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits on behalf of an employee with the Workers’ Compensation Commission,” Anne Lahren, an attorney with Virginia Beach-based Pender & Coward P.C. who represents the school board, said in a statement.

The school board seeks full benefits for Ms. Zwerner, including lifetime medical benefits, which she would be eligible to receive immediately, and wage benefits.

“We do not want to see these significant benefits jeopardized by letting the deadline for filing lapse,” Ms. Lahren stated. “We firmly believe that the Workers’ Compensation Commission is the correct forum to determine this case, not the Circuit Court.”

In her lawsuit, Ms. Zwerner argues the school district’s alleged gross negligence serves as an exception to workers comp exclusivity.