Junior High Suicide Case Sent Back to State Court

     LAS VEGAS (CN) – School bullying that drove a 13-year-old girl to kill herself does not give her parents a federal claim against Las Vegas schools, a federal judge ruled, remanding some claims to state court.
     Hailee Joy Lamberth shot herself at home two days after her 13th birthday, leaving a suicide note: “I only hope that you tell my school that I killed myself so maybe next time people like [C.H.] wants to call someone pimple face or emo ass bitch he won’t.” (Brackets in complaint.)
     U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon’s Aug. 12 order of dismissal and remand rehearses the months of bullying to which Hailee was subjected at Thurman White Middle School in 2013: a voice mail message asking, “Where are you, Hailee? I hope you died”; pushing and shoving at school while being called ugly and fat; notes left in her locker saying, “Drink bleach and die,” and “Why don’t you die?”
     Her parents claimed that the school was aware of the bullying, which occurred particularly in gym class “nearly every day for about two months,” but that the defendant gym teacher did not report it, which is required by Nevada law.
     Hailee’s father and 6-year-old brother found her body in the family’s den. The family sued Clark County School District and several of employees on numerous grounds, including failing to protect Hailee from the bullying or informing her parents of it, in violation of the Constitution’s Due Process Clause. They also claimed the school district defamed Hailee’s father and that an employee’s Facebook posted depicted him in false light.
     But as “tragic” and “distressing” as the school’s “inactions and omissions” may be, Judge Gordon wrote, “they simply do not constitute a violation of the Due Process Clause.”
     Hailee, who suffered from epilepsy, was a straight-A student, an artist and athlete, but four months of relentless bullying destroyed her, her parents said in their original lawsuit in Clark County Court. They sought punitive damages for wrongful death, negligence, infliction of emotional distress, civil rights violations, defamation, unreasonable publicity, failure to protect privacy and false light invasion of privacy.
     The complaint was removed to Federal Court. Gordon on Wednesday dismissed only the claims supporting original jurisdiction in his court, and all claims supporting removal.
     “The remaining claims raise novel issues of Nevada state law, including whether suicide constitutes a superseding intervening act. The potential liability of state actors under state law for their alleged inaction is best resolved by the Nevada courts.”
     The Lamberths’ attorney, Allen Lichtenstein, was not immediately available for comment Thursday. The school district does not comment on active lawsuits.

%d bloggers like this: