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case law and out of court settlements in relation to child bullying and school bullying

Case law and out-of-court settlements
for child bullying and school bullying

11 August 2005: Federal jury awards $250,000 to former Tonganoxie (Kansas, USA) student Dylan Theno for five years of bullying and sexual harassment after judge prevents attempts by Tonganoxie School District to have case thrown out. [More | More]

22 June 2003: Targets of bullying strike back - LEAs face 8 million bill for their ongoing neglect (from The Observer). Cases show the daily horrific brutality that pupils regularly endure. One pupil was kidnapped from a classroom, frogmarched by bullies to a nearby deserted factory, tied up and left there for hours. A five-year-old had his ear practically ripped off, and was then forced to walk home alone after teachers at the South Wales school ordered him from the grounds. [More]

5 May 2003: 17-year-old Jenny Soutar, who attends Blairgowrie High School in Perthshire, has obtained a court order preventing a gang of bullies from threatening her. Jenny had been bullied for eight months and believed her school and local education authority let her down, thus leaving her with no option but to take legal action. This is the first time a court has issued an interdict against bullies and the penalties for breaking the order can be severe. [More]

August 2002: in a case which has serious ramifications for the reporting of child abuse, Scottish target of bullying at school Michael McKinnon faces financial ruin by a defamation case in which witnesses were excluded. Mr McKinnon alleges he was assaulted by teacher Aiden McKellar whilst at St Joseph's College, Dumfries. An investigation led to the recommendation by the school's rector and deputy rector that McKellar be dismissed but this was overruled by councillors on Dumfries and Galloway's education committee which included teachers and former teachers, some of whom had political links with McKellar. Other pupils testified that they had also been assaulted by McKellar. Michael McKinnon's advice about holding bullies accountable? "Keep quiet about being bullied. Shut up. Get out of the bully's way. Change schools if need be, but don't whatever you do report it." [More]

5 July 2002: Jamie Bright and Caroline Newby, now both 20, have lost their legal battle for compensation for prolonged bullying whilst at Shotton Hall Secondary School in Peterlee, County Durham. Recorder Julian Goose accepted Miss Newby and Mr Bright had been bullied but said the school was not to blame. By failing to uphold the Duty of Care the verdict effectively gives the green light to bullies and schools which fail to deal with bullying. [Full story]

23 January 2002: Leah Bradford-Smart, 21, has lost her Appeal Court case for damages for "persistent and prolonged bullying" whilst she was a pupil at Ifield Middle School in Crawley, West Sussex. [More] [The Times legal comment]

8 November 2000: 19-year-old Leah Bradford-Smart from Crawley, West Sussex has lost her legal action in the High Court for damages resulting from her local education authority's failure to protect her from bullying whilst she was a pupil at Ifield Middle School in Crawley, West Sussex between 1990 and 1993. Despite Miss Bradford-Smart's evidence being substantially accepted by the judge, the LEA successfully argued that bullying which took place on the way to and from school was not their responsibility. [Click here for thoughts on this]

23 October 2000: at Manchester County Court a former grammar school pupil has been awarded 1500 damages after a judge found that Sale Grammar School had breached their duty of care for failing to protect the pupil against 18 months of verbal abuse and bullying which culminated in a sexual assault on a school trip.

7 March 2000: after 18 months of bullying, 9-year-old Verity Ward is planning to apply to the High Court for an enforcement order to force Bramcote Hills Primary School in Nottingham to follow the rules laid down in its anti-bullying policy.

20 September 1999: in Carnell v North Yorkshire County Council, the defendants have paid 6,000 into court to settle an action involving pupil bullying at Harrogate Grammar School. This is the first legal victory since September 1999 when it became mandatory for schools to have bullying policies (see above). "We're delighted that the LEA decided they were not prepared to back the school," said Mrs Liz Carnell, who runs the website Bullying Online. "This should send a clear message to all school governors, and those at Harrogate Grammar School in particular, that they have a responsibility to know when complaints of bullying are made and that they should sort them out." In 1998 Harrogate Grammar School applied for but failed to achieve Investors in People accreditation. The report of the IiP assessor said that staff made comments about "bullying" and "autocratic" top management, adding: "There appears to be a degree of fear in voicing concerns, making objective observations and suggestions."

November 1996: in Sharp v. London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, Sebastian Sharp, 20, accepted an out-of-court settlement of 30,000 for four years of bullying whilst he was at Shene School, Richmond, London. Mr Sharp said he was regularly insulted, kicked and punched by other pupils, who also tied him up with string in a 4-year campaign starting when he was 11. The London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames said it wanted to contest the allegation vigorously but the Borough's insurance company "wanted to avoid a costly and time-consuming court process".

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