By: Allan M. Siegel
The civil justice system exists to protect the rights of the injured and
the wronged. A recently settled case, litigated by the public interest
law firm Public Justice, helps illustrate how important and effective
tthis system can be. In that particular case, a civil rights lawsuit compelled
a school district to take a stand against bullying.
Here are some details about the lawsuit, as reported by the on by the
- The case involved Pine Bush Central School District - a New York school
district that had a significant and habitual problem with anti-Semitic
bullying among students. Despite the fact that the bullying was extreme,
well documented, and persistent through the years, the district failed
to take any meaningful action to protect students. Instead, the district
told parents the incidents were isolated and did nothing to stem the problem.
Because the problem was so bad, several parents and families decided to
act and filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in 2012. Again, the district
failed to take responsibility for its failures and moved to have the lawsuit
dismissed. Over time - and because of an alarming record of evidence about
the level of anti-Semitic bullying in district schools - the lawsuit became
front page news on media like the
New York Times.
- Only after a federal judge denied the district’s motion to dismiss
the lawsuit did the school district begin to make changes, including the
creation of a diversity and anti-bullying curriculum. The case proceeded
and when it was set for jury trial, the district agreed to a settlement.
- As part of the settlement, the district agreed to pay $4.48 million in
compensation to current and former Jewish students who were victims of
anti-Semitism at district schools. Additionally, the district agreed to
enact a number of reforms involving anti-bullying policies, training,
student education and discipline, and reporting. The district must also
respond promptly to anti-Semitic harassment and impose meaningful consequences.
You can read the full article here.
Although an unfortunate example of how failures and neglect can cause suffering
- particularly for the student victims of the bullying - this case speaks
volumes about the power of our civil justice. Because the victims and
their families had access to the court system, they were able to make
their voices heard when they were previously ignored. The court system
also gave their voices the power to expose injustice, compel the school
district to make amends, and correct a broken system for future students.
In the past, we have discussed the
power and importance of the civil justice system. Although the facts and circumstances of cases will always vary,
the civil justice system exists for the purpose of protecting individual
rights and, among other reasons, to:
- Expose negligence
- Ensure accountability
- Promote change
- Protect public safety
Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. is passionate about guiding
clients through the civil justice system - whether they’ve been
injured, harassed, victimized, or otherwise wronged by the negligent and
wrongful acts of others. If you have questions about your legal right
to pursue justice in a civil court, our attorneys are always available to help.