Papillion, Nebraska – In a recent courtroom development, the family of Ryan Larsen, a special needs child who has been missing since May 2021, faced a setback when their lawsuit against the Papillion La Vista Community Schools district was dismissed by a federal judge. The family had been seeking accountability for the disappearance of their son from La Vista West Elementary School over two years ago.
Ryan, a sixth-grader with special needs, mysteriously wandered away from the elementary school and has not been seen since, despite extensive searches conducted by various levels of law enforcement and community volunteers. His family had filed a lawsuit claiming that the school officials’ negligence led to his disappearance, which they said was a violation of his constitutional civil rights.
However, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bataillon determined that the lawsuit did not establish that the school district had an unconstitutional policy, a necessary component for a federal lawsuit to proceed. As such, the family’s claim was rejected on the grounds that they failed to prove the school officials’ direct violation of Ryan’s civil rights.
Tammi Larsen, Ryan’s mother, has previously expressed that her son was left unattended at the school and that there was no immediate effort to stop him from walking out of the front door. Her distress and the community’s concern have been compounded by the fact that there has been no sighting of Ryan since that day.
Although this particular case has been dismissed without prejudice, which allows for the possibility of filing another lawsuit, the family is undoubtedly grappling with the painful uncertainty of Ryan’s fate. This court decision comes after an unsuccessful petition to have Ryan declared legally dead in Sarpy County court six months prior. The Larsens were seeking an unspecified monetary compensation and punitive damages with the now-dismissed lawsuit. The quest for answers about what happened to Ryan Larsen continues as the legal avenues seem to have narrowed for the moment.