Tristen Rushing will receive nearly $200,000 in damages after being forced to do 200 push-ups for being late to band practice.
In 2014, McKinley High School student Tristen Rushing was punished for his tardiness to band practice by way of 200 push-ups. The excessive physical strain threatened his muscle integrity, his kidneys, and could have cost him his life. Medical testimony confirmed that the muscle damage caused “extremely high level of enzymes” to be “released into his system.”
Rushing claimed his arms swelled and his urine was “pitch black,” but that he was ostracized by his band mates for reporting the incident. In 2015, Rushing and his mother Melissa Rushing decided to sue the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board; McKinley High; and the school’s former volunteer assistant band director, Jason Jones.
While prosecutors argued that the punishment was abusive and violated restrictions against corporal punishment, the school’s defense asserted that the board did not specifically prohibit push-ups, and that — despite the damning medical testimony offered — the punishment was not unreasonable.
“Evidence also showed that following the incident, the once out-going, music-loving, friendly teenager became introverted, depressed, suicidal, and lost his passion for music,” First Circuit Judge Guy Holdridge said in his verdict. While they were originally awarded $185,000, an appeals court marginally reduced the amount to $183,302 on Tuesday.
Jones has offered a public apology in court, saying, “I am truly sorry for what happened to you. I would not have ever done anything to hurt you. If I could take it all back I would.” McKinley band director Frank Williams also offered an apology, claiming, “It was never my intention, and I’m extremely sorry that happened.”