Category Archives: COURTS & CASES

Fatal heart attack may have resulted from years of workplace bullying: WCB ruling

(Canadian OH&S News) — The Workers Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island (WCB) recently awarded benefits to a Hazelbrook, P.E.I. woman, after ruling that her husband’s death by cardiac arrest had been linked to workplace bullying.

Eric Donovan, 47, was a longtime employee of Queens County Residential Services (QCRS) who passed away on Nov. 11, 2013. The WCB awarded benefits to Donovan’s widow, Lisa Donovan, following a three-year legal proceeding. The ruling reportedly occurred last December, but was not publicized by the media until late March.

The award to Lisa Donovan was “based on a finding of fact that there was bullying, that there was resultant stress, that that stress was of a degree in severity that induced a heart attack, and that heart attack was fatal,” said her lawyer, James W. Macnutt, a partner with Charlottetown law firm Macnutt & Dumont.

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Man allegedly bullied for hearing impairment sues for $1.8m

A HEARING impaired Queensland miner is suing Laing O’Rourke Australia Construction PTY LTD for more than $1.8 million after alleged bullying incidents saw him labelled a “little bitch”, “deaf f*ckwit” and “fat bastard” by his superiors.

The 39-year-old trades assistant claims the manager, supervisor and fleet co-ordinator at his mining camp had begun bullying him just one month after he commenced work in mid-2013.

The man asserts the trio would swear at him and allow employees to place derogatory cartoons and images of him in the crib room.

They also allegedly allowed staff to make insulting comments about his hearing disability and the consequent “mumbling nature” of his language.

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Family of 13-year-old boy who hanged himself sues his private Brooklyn Catholic school for ignoring ‘months of relentless bullying from classmates and teachers’

The family of a 13-year-old boy who took his own life after months of bullying is now suing the Brooklyn Catholic school they said did nothing to save him.
Daniel Fitzpatrick committed suicide at his Staten Island home on August 11, 2016, after writing a heartbreaking letter, suggesting he was relentlessly tormented by his classmates and teachers.

His family have been outspoken about their pain since losing their son, and on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the Holy Angels Catholic Academy.

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Former Galena football players sue head coach, principal, school district in bullying case

(Editor’s Note:  Whether activity constitutes bullying or not often depends on the circumstances.  The context should always be taken into account.   While the coach’s words and actions might not be appropriate in a more formal, professional setting, they don’t seem out of line within the context of a high school football program.  I would not be surprised to see this case dismissed on motion without getting near a jury.  — Mike Tully)

RENO, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) — Three former Galena High School football players on Wednesday, Jan. 4, sued Galena football coach Steve Struzyk, Principal Tom Brown, and the Washoe County School District in federal court, according to a release from their attorney, Terri Keyser-Cooper.

According to Cooper, Mateo Lemus, Bryan Madison, and Jake Berger allege their First Amendments were violated by Struzyk, their football coach, because he retaliated against them when they “respectfully and appropriately opposed his bullying, taunting, derogatory and demeaning treatment” during the 2016 football season.

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‘Anarchy’ alleged at JCPS middle school (KY)

A federal lawsuit filed Thursday alleges seven children from six families were relentlessly bullied by other students, some brutally, at Jefferson County’s Crosby Middle School as administrators failed to intervene at a school that became “a living hell.”

One girl was left “a bloody mess on the floor” after she was “savagely” attacked by a student in revenge for reporting bullying, the lawsuit alleges. The plaintiffs claim their children were repeatedly ridiculed, robbed, punched, slapped, shoved, or pushed down stairs while parents’ pleas to administrators “fell on deaf ears,” the lawsuit said.

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Badgering the Gerrymander

by Mike Tully

“Badger” is a noun and a verb. As a noun, it refers to an animal found in most of North America. As a verb, it means to harass, pester, or nag. It is also the Wisconsin state mammal. On November 21, 2016, a federal court in Wisconsin sought to badger the legal system into addressing partisan gerrymandering. Will it work?

The case, Whitford v. Gill, was brought by Democrats but the issue isn’t partisan because either party may be victimized by gerrymandering. The “ox” being gored could be a donkey or an elephant. Gerrymandering can elevate a political minority over a majority. Democratic candidates for the U. S. House of Representatives in 2012 cumulatively won nearly one and half million more votes than Republicans. Yet, Democrats were a minority in the new Congress.

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More than $1 million paid out for workplace bullying (AU)

The interrogation came out of the blue and continued mercilessly, even while she was doubled over sobbing.

The woman, who was 41 at the time of the incident, has been awarded more than $1 million in a negotiated workplace bullying settlement.

The bullying she experienced at a NSW government agency five years ago has rendered her unable to ever work again.

As two bosses hurled accusations at her during a meeting called to provide her with feedback on an internal job application, the woman who could only speak on the condition of anonymity, said she was in shock and disbelief.

Now aged 46, she still has no idea what motivated the attack which had come without any warning. A string of psychiatrists have provided evidence that her mental injury has rendered her unable to return to work.

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Ninth Circuit panel rules Oregon district did not violate student’s free speech rights when it disciplined him for off-campus sexually harassing speech

(Editor’s Note:  This case is interesting, because it focuses on the second prong of Tinker v Des Moines.  Most cases that cite Tinker cite the first prong, “substantial disruption” of the educational process.  In other words, situations that cause disruption to adults.  Rarely is the case, like this one, that cites the second prong, the right of students to be secure in the educational environment.  Far too many courts, when deciding cyberbullying cases, focus on the first prong and ignore the second.  So, this case is a breath of fresh air in that regard.  However, the speech was not necessary “off campus.”  The students were walking home from school.  That is merely an extension of the in-school jurisdiction since the activities took place in proximity to the school.  In fact, in Arizona, school districts can explicitly discipline students for “disorderly conduct on the way to and from school.”  A.R.S. § 15-341.A.13.  I don’t read this case as extending discipline jurisdiction to off-campus, but it is important because of the way the Court cited Tinker. — Mike Tully)

Abstract: A U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit three-judge panel has ruled that a school district did not violate a student’s free speech rights when it disciplined him for engaging in off-campus, sexually harassing speech towards two other students. It also rejected his procedural and substantive due process claims.

The panel concluded that the school district had the authority to regulate off-campus student speech, and that its discipline of the student passed constitutional muster under Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969).

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Workplace bullying may be bad, but it’s not illegal, right? Not so fast …

Can bullies in Alaska workplaces hide behind the fact that there’s no state law against bullying? According to contemporary thought, bullying isn’t illegal unless you work in California (which has a Workplace Violence Safety Act), Utah (with a Healthy Workplace Bill) or at a public agency in Tennessee (which has a Healthy Workplace Act protecting those who work in state and municipal agencies).

As a result, many believe bullies have virtual immunity and that those bullied have little protection unless those who bully them cross a line through criminal assault or by attacking their targets in legally protected areas, such as discrimination against age, race or sex or in the exercise of protected rights such as safety.

Perhaps, however, the tide has turned.

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