Mother of missing Ryan Larsen sues Papillion La Vista School District

The Papillion-La Vista School District is reacting to being sued by the family of Ryan Larsen over his disappearance.
Published: May. 15, 2023 at 2:06 PM CDT
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PAPILLION, Neb. (WOWT) - The family of Ryan Larsen, who’s been missing since May 2021, filed a lawsuit against the Papillion La Vista Community Schools district.

Ryan Larsen hadn’t yet celebrated his 12th birthday when police tell us he left La Vista West Elementary School on May 17, 2021.

He has been missing since, despite exhaustive search efforts by local, state and federal law enforcement, as well as community members.

The circumstances surrounding how and when he left school are at the center of a lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of his mother Tammi Larsen against PLCS and three as yet unnamed individuals, cited as Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3.

”The courts are going to decide,” district communications director Annette Eyman said. “The courts are going to decide what happens and what the next steps are and we’re going to continue to do what we need to do to make sure that we’re supporting Ryan’s family and our students and staff.”

On April 27, a petition to declare him legally dead failed in Sarpy County court. At the time, the family’s attorney Sean Conway told reporters they intended to sue in federal court. Monday they did.

On Monday, May 15, the family filed suit against the Papillion-La Vista School District.

Court documents regarding the lawsuit allege that La Vista West Elementary School staff made no immediate attempts to prevent Ryan from leaving the school or to retrieve and return him to school, and also claims the school staff knew Ryan had to be supervised at all times. The suit claims Ryan walked unattended out of the front doors of the school in the middle of the day.

Court documents also detail Ryan’s disabilities, claiming he was diagnosed with autism, absence seizures and Tourette’s, while also having “substantially delayed learning, social and communication skills due to his diagnoses.”

The suit claims that the district, knowing of Ryan’s disabilities was negligent, specifically citing Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3 for failure to “prudently supervise” Ryan when he left school May 17, 2021.

The suit seeks an unspecified amount of money for “the general and special damages that she (mother Tammi Larsen) and Ryan have and will continue to sustain” as well as punitive damages.

Eyman said, while the suit is now in the hands of lawyers, the community remains supportive of the Larsen family.

“We have talked with Ryan’s mother several times since this occurred, and we try to keep those lines of communication open as we can,” Eyman said on behalf of the school district. “I can’t imagine losing a child, I can’t imagine losing a child in this situation, so trying to understand what the family is going through is an impossible task and and our hearts go out to Ryan’s family every single day.”