Around the country, including New Hampshire, more and more lawsuits are being filed by parents against school districts who allow students to be bullied by other students. Awareness of bullying as a serious child safety issue is at an all-time high, as is parental awareness of legal options to deal with serious bullying cases.
A suit was filed in January of this year by a mother in New York, alleging that her son’s school district failed to protect him from bullying that took place on his school bus. A suit claiming $10 million in damages was filed in Virginia by the mother of a student who committed suicide after being repeatedly hazed by another student. The mother alleged that the school was aware of the bullying and did nothing to stop it. Another $10 million suit was filed in Maryland in April by a grandmother who claims that bullying drove her grandson to hang himself after school officials ignored his repeated complaints about the treatment he was receiving from other students. Another attempted suicide case in Wisconsin led to a lawsuit by the mother of a quadriplegic child who was aggressively taunted by classmates.
These are difficult cases to bring and a variety of legal theories are being used in this new wave of bullying cases with mixed results. Some of them rely on anti-bullying laws, like the ones New Hampshire recently updated in the wake of the Phoebe Prince case in Massachusetts. Others rely on Title VII or Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, and are based on unlawful sexual harassment and discrimination. Many rely on simple common law theories like negligence and negligent supervision.
If your child has been the victim of bullying, and your school system refuses to take the necessary steps to put a stop to it, you need to contact a law firm with trial experience.
Mediation is a process using a mediator, usually a volunteer lawyer or former Marital Master. The mediator has no interest in the case and cannot compel the parties to settle.
Mediation is a method by which both parties commit to considering alternative, and sometimes creative, outcomes to the issues in dispute. In a phrase, someone pays more than he/she wants to pay and someone agrees to receive less than he/she wants. In considering any offer or counter offer, each party must consider the inherent risks associated with trial, as well as the financial and emotional costs associated with prolonging the litigation.
Mediation can resolve any issue arising between to spouses/parents at any point during the litigation. Frequently, mediation can be used to resolve some, but not all, of the issues in dispute.
It looks like the New Hampshire Department of Safety is once again going to try to prevent DWI suspects from double-checking its work. This morning the Concord Monitor reported that the Department will, once again, try to convince legislators to remove one more protection against false evidence. If they succeed, people charged with DWI will lose an opportunity not only to cast doubt on the evidence against them, but also to establish their innocence.
New Hampshire uses a machine called the Intoxilyzer 5000 to test breath samples of people arrested for DWI. The machine is far from perfect, but one of its better features is that it provides a suspect with a tube containing a sample of his or her breath. This sample can then be taken to an independent laboratory for testing by an independent device, one not controlled and operated by the same government that will be responsible for any criminal prosecution that follows. In other words, the Intoxilyzer 5000 permits a DWI suspect to double-check the state’s work. Unfortunately, the Intoxilyzer 5000 is the only breath testing machine on the market that provides a suspect with a sample.
In what I consider to be a jaw-dropping statement, the director of the State Police lab that maintains all of the Intoxilyzer 5000 machines in New Hampshire, is reported to have said that the motive for changing the law is “bad science.” Bad science? Bad science! For twenty years the State Police have been telling suspects, lawyers, judges and the public that the Intoxilyzer 5000 was accurate and that its results were practically beyond reproach. I have long argued that this was not the case. Now the government agrees. We have long known that approximately 15% of people have their breath tested independently, and approximately 5% show an inconsistency that casts doubt on the government’s result. A 5% error rate is simply too high. If Tiger Woods missed 5% of his shots, he would be picking up stray golf balls at some driving range in Omaha.
The government’s position seems to be this: Trust us, and this time we will try really, really hard to get it right. Sorry, but no thank you. The government has been telling us for years that it is already getting it right. Now they tell us that the old way is no longer good enough. Which is it? And what about all those cases in which you testified that the Intoxilyzer 5000 results were beyond reproach?
Drunk driving is a serious problem and a very real danger. But so is the risk of wrongful prosecution and conviction. Our streets will not be made the slightest bit safer by removing one of the few opportunities a DWI suspect has to challenge the questionable science behind breath testing. The New Hampshire legislature should not short-change its citizens by removing this protection against wrongful DWI prosecution.
When a person is injured in an accident it is natural to ask “who is at fault?” Personal injury law is a general term that covers all sorts of injuries caused by the carelessness of others. The most common personal injury claims include automobile accidents, slip and fall cases, dog-bites, work-place accidents, medical malpractice and wrongful death. The goal of personal injury law is to have the person responsible for the accident – the person “at fault” – compensate the accident victim for the injury..
Although there are several ways to hold a person responsible for their conduct, most personal injury claims are based on the idea of negligence. This is different than a person intending to cause injury to someone else. In order to prove that the person who injured you acted negligently, the injured person must establish three things:
• A duty was owed to you.
The term “duty” means the standard of care expected of a person in a particular situation. A person’s conduct is measured by how a “reasonable person” might act under the same circumstances. It is easier to understand the meaning of “duty” in the context of a motor vehicle accident. Traffic rules are designed to promote safety and prevent accidents. Examples of these rules of the road require stopping at a red light, yielding to oncoming traffic or pedestrians in cross-walks or not driving while intoxicated. These “duties” are placed on all drivers.
• The other person breached that duty.
The second requirement, breach of duty, simply means that the other person failed to act as a “reasonable person” and violated their duty – such as failing to stop at a red light or a stop sign or some other rule of the road.
• That breach of duty caused your injury.
For the third part, the accident victim’s injury must have been caused by the other person’s actions or breach of their duty. Generally, recovering compensation for your injury, sometimes referred to as damages, or tort damages, includes such factors as past and future medical bills, lost wages or earnings, loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering.