Sleepy Student Claims Teacher's Wake-Up Slam Caused Hearing Loss

A 16-year-old Connecticut high school student who fell asleep in class says he suffered substantial hearing loss when his math teacher smacked her palm down on his desk to wake him up while she was teaching.

Now his parents are planning to sue Danbury High School, the Connecticut Board of Education and the city of Danbury on his behalf.

Vinicios Robacher's father, Soel Robacher, claims that his sleepy son's left ear was resting on his desk on Dec. 4 when math teacher Melissa Nadeau slammed her hand down so hard that his eardrum burst. Robacher says his son experienced an almost complete loss of hearing.

Since then, though some of his hearing has been restored, the boy has been through extensive medical treatments with ear, nose and throat specialists and could require surgery to fully rectify the damage, according to documents obtained by

The Robachers' lawyer said the complaint filed with the city last month isn't a lawsuit but a warning that a claim is being investigated and a suit could follow.

"We don't have all the facts," said attorney Alan Barry of Alan Barry & Associates. "The facts that we don't have are a complete analysis of the medical condition. There is no question in our mind about what happened and the damage to this child's hearing."

Barry said he wants to know Nadeau's teaching history and is prepared to fight to gain access to her personnel records.

Danbury High School Principal Catherine Richard and Nadeau weren't available for comment, and all media inquiries were referred to schools Superintendent Sal Pascarella, who didn't immediately return calls.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said he wasn't qualified to speak about the matter because, under Connecticut law, it is solely under the jurisdiction of the Board of Education.

"I don't have any knowledge of it. I don't have any comment," Boughton said. "It's really up to the Board of Ed to handle."

The Robachers declined requests for an interview, referring all questions to their lawyer. To date, they have refused to allow their son to speak to the press.

Barry said the boy's ear hurt instantly after Nadeau hit his desk.

"He woke up and immediately felt pain in his ear," Barry said. "I think he was so taken aback that he didn't say anything at the time."

The next day, Vinicios' parents took him to the hospital after he complained of hearing loss and they discovered a bloody fluid on his pillow.

Not surprisingly, the case has drawn its share of ridicule and bad publicity, and the Robachers' lawyer said students have been teasing Vinicios at school. Though the parents are undeterred in their aim to pursue the matter legally, they're considering transferring their son to a private school, Barry said.

"There has been a certain amount of negative backlash for making this claim," he said. "I fully expected it and I really understand that. What's a little bit disturbing is the fact that nobody's saying if you fall asleep in class, it's OK for your hearing to be damaged."

Barry filed the documents with the Danbury City Clerk on Feb. 25.

He said he is getting no compensation for representing the Robachers and will get paid only if a lawsuit is filed and won. He'll get one-third of the amount of a settlement or damages, he said.