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Public Justice Anti-Bullying Case Highlights Importance of Civil Justice System

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.

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Here are some details about the lawsuit, as reported by the on by the Huffington Post:

  • 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.