A Eugene, Oregon, father who filed a lawsuit over the beating of his son at his middle school has settled his lawsuit with the Eugene School District for $15,000 just before the trial was set to begin. That’s far less than the original $600,000 he originally sought when he filed the suit last year.
The suit was brought against not only the school district, but the four boys involved and their parents. The civil action against the boys, all minors, claimed that they committed assault and battery when they beat up the victim. It also accused them of inflicting emotional distress on the boy.
Criminal Charges Were Avoided with Formal Accountability Agreements
The incident reportedly occurred in May 2014 during the students’ lunch period. The suit accused school authorities of improper supervision. It also alleged that they knew, or at least should have known, that the alleged assailants had previously engaged in “intimidating, harassing and assaulting younger students.”
The boys avoided being charged for the beating in juvenile court by reaching “formal accountability agreements” with prosecutors. Although the exact terms of the agreements weren’t disclosed, they usually involve some type of community service or counseling.
As far as whether any of the families reached a settlement with the plaintiff in the lawsuit, only one family’s attorney commented. He said that they are paying no money to the plaintiff and, in fact, seek to recover court costs. No one else confirmed or denied a settlement.
School District Admitted No Wrongdoing in Settlement
The settlement with the school district includes a no-liability clause. That means that the district is admitting no wrongdoing in the incident. However, a spokesman for the district said that officials concluded that “it was in the district’s and community’s best financial interests to settle the matter at significantly less expense than resolving it in court.”
Even with the increased attention given to bullying in schools and efforts made by various school districts to try to combat it, sadly, it still occurs every day in our nation’s schools. Holding school officials civilly liable for the injuries done to children when they should be in a safe, supervised environment may help incentivize them to do a better job of preventing bullying and punishing the offenders.
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