Cyberbullying Litigation on the Rise

by Fred Abramson on September 13, 2011 · 1 comment

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The Wall Street Journal reports that  bullying litigation is on the rise throughout the country.

The primary driver of this type of litigation is an increasing awareness of bullying.  The lawsuits are increasing for several  additional reasons, including new standards and more experts in the legal community, says David Finkelhor, director of the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center.

Apparently Martin J. Cirkiel an attorney who practices in Texas claims that he has processed 60 to 70 cases about bullying in the past two years.

One case that has garnered much attention is the matter of  Jon Timothy and Tami Carmichael of Cleburne, Texas, who are convinced their 13-year-old son Jon’s suicide in March 2010 was the result of daily bullying by peers and the lack of action taken by school officials.

The lawsuit alleges:

that staff and students were aware of multiple acts of bullying, including incidents in which their son was thrown into a trash can, had his head flushed in a toilet and — shortly before his death — was stripped nude, tied up and again placed into a trash can. The lawsuit states a tape of the latter event was posted on YouTube, then taken down “at the direction of an unknown staff member, who also failed to report the incident.”

The Carmichaels’ federal lawsuit is against the Joshua Independent School District.  This could be a big problem for school districts who take a blind eye to bullies.

USA Today also notes some other recent lawsuits:

•The National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Faegre & Benson law firm filed a lawsuit on July 21, challenging anti-gay harassment in schools within the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota. The case is “currently in mediation,” says Brett Johnson, spokesman for the district.

•The family of a Howard County, Md., student filed a $10 million federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore against several school officials in January, claiming administrators failed to protect the student from bullying that led to his suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. District spokeswoman Patti Caplan says a motion to dismiss has been filed.

The Law Office of Frederic R. Abramson practices civil litigation in New York. If you have a question about Cyberbullying in New York, free fall to call me at 212-233-0666.

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