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School Liability for Bullying

A sophomore college student at Brandeis University launched a lawsuit against an alleged bully and the prestigious Manhattan school he attended for an incident of bullying that took place eight years earlier. Eric Giray, 19, claims he was attacked by Daniel Dworakowski in 2004 after enduring several months of verbal harassment. The incident, in which he was pushed forcefully into bleachers, left him with a broken nose and required 18 stitches to close the gash at the bridge of his nose. In his lawsuit, Mr. Giray asserts that the school failed to react to two emails sent by his mother prior to the physical attack, in which Mrs. Giray complained of verbal abuse and asked the school to intervene and protect her son from further bullying.

When can a school be held liable for bullying?

New York recently passed an anti-bullying statute, which will take effect on July 1, 2013, in which public schools are required to ensure students are not subject to harassment, bullying or cyber-bullying. In addition, as public schools benefit from federal funding, they are responsible for the implementation of federal laws prohibiting discriminatory harassment based on a student’s race, color, gender, nationality, religion or disability. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a public school can be held liable under federal harassment laws if it does not adequately deal with severe and persistent bullying based on one of these forms of discriminatory harassment. Private schools, like public schools, are subject to common law duties of care towards students, and could be held responsible for bullying under negligence and premises liability.

How long do I have to file a claim?

Personal injury and negligence lawsuits are generally subject to a statute of limitations of three years. However, if you or your child was under the age of 18 when the bullying took place, the clock for determining when the three-year period ends does not start running until you reach the age of 18. As a result, you may have several years to make a decision about whether to file a claim. Claims against school districts have very short filing requirements, some as short as 90 days. Therefore, it is imperative that you consult an attorney as soon as possible and file you notice of claim immediately.

For more information on your legal rights if you have faced bullying, get in touch with a determined New York school negligence lawyer.

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