Can a school be held liable for a suicide?

Every year during the Kentucky State Fair, the Kentucky Justice Association puts on a Trial by Jury. In that trial, real lawyers put on cases with actors playing the witnesses and the victims and an entire trial takes place in an hour. This allows people to see a much shorter trial then they would ever actually see and get to see some of the things that go on in court.

Now, as an attorney, it was interesting to run through the process in a much shorter time frame then actual court and also, as an attorney who represents the victims in injury cases, it was interesting to argue the other side and represent the organization being sued.

In 2014 the case argued at the Kentucky State Fair was a case in which a school, and the teacher and principal, were being sued after a student was bullied and then killed himself. Even with the short time we had to handle the cases, it was still rough on both sides to make the arguments. First, let me say that an attorney argues in their clients interests, but Im glad I wasn’t the one that would be defending this case in real life, as one of the things to be argued was hat the parents are just as much to blame as the school, as they should have seen the suicide coming if the school could.

Apparently, at that point in the three days of the Trial by Jury, I must have been the only mother arguing for the school, as the actress playing the mother said I was the only one that basically made the argument that if she didn’t see what was going to happen, how could the school. That is the most likely argument, in my opinion, that the school could make and even in a make believe case, I had a hard time making that argument, as a parent.

Which is why I am glad that our firm argues on the sides of the victims in injury cases, as I would have a hard time with the job of the defense counsel in these types of case.

Now, a similar case is currently in front of the Kentucky Supreme Court currently. A student’s mother is suing four teachers, two superintendents and a principal under the theory that they knew of the bullying and did nothing to stop it. That case started in 2007 and has made its way to the Kentucky Supreme Court and on March 25, 2015, the Justices will hear arguments for the first time on whether or not schools can be held liable for failing to stop bullying which caused a student’s suicide.

As an attorney, and as a parent, I will be watching to see how the Court rules.



2 thoughts on “Can a school be held liable for a suicide?”

  1. A fascinating discussion is worth comment. I do think that you should write more about this topic,
    it may not be a taboo subject but generally people do not speak about such issues.
    To the next! Cheers!!

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