School $ettlements for hazing

Source: Public Justice’s Anti-Bullying Campaign to track jury verdicts and settlements in hazing cases filed against school districts in federal and state courts throughout the country. Full credit for this important source goes to: Please send your information to Adele Kimmel, Senior Attorney, at akimmel@publicjustice.net.

 

  1. Callahan ex rel. Roe v. Gustine Unified School District, 678 F. Supp. 2d 1008 (E.D. Cal. 2009) • Settlement: Undisclosed amount. • Harassment/Injuries: Sexual assault and hazing. • Single Plaintiff. •

 

Basic Facts: Upper-class football players sodomized a freshman teammate at a school-sponsored camp by blowing pressurized air through his rectum with a battery-powered air pump. The teammates also groped him in the shower and beat him on the head and face with a pillow case full of heavy objects. After the weekend, the freshman became the target of anti-gay taunts. •

 

Causes of Action: Title IX claim for deliberate indifference to sexual harassment; claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging equal protection violation; state tort law claims for sexual battery, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent supervision, negligent training and negligence per se; California state constitutional claim alleging an equal protection violation; and California statutory claims for gender violence, deprivation of a civil right, freedom from violence, sex discrimination, and vicarious liability of a parent for the willful acts of a minor. • Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Donald Proietti and Kimberly Flores of Allen, Proietti & Fagalde, LLP, Merced, CA. • More Information: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-caed-1_07-cv00796/pdf/USCOURTS-caed-1_07-cv-00796-8.pdf.

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2) Doe, ex rel. Denari v. Kern High School District (Kern Cnty. Super. Ct. 2009) • Settlement: $260,000 ($42,500 from school district; remainder from bullies and parents). • Harassment/Injuries: Physical assault; hazing. • Single Plaintiff. • Basic Facts: Ninth grade student on debate team physically assaulted by teammates. Five upperclassmen on the team encased him from ankles to shoulders in plastic wrap and then bound him tightly with duct tape. Teammates then mocked and threatened him until a trickle of blood began to run from his mouth. On several occasions, the upperclassmen tried to tape him to a wall. After each attempt, he fell to the ground, knocking the wind out of him. Another student urinated on his shirt. • Cause of Action: State tort law. • Plaintiff’s Attorney: Unknown. • More Information: http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/archive/x820007988/ExclusiveBullying-case-costs-families-thousands

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3) John KZ Doe v. Hesperia Unified School District, No. CIVDS1616281 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2016) • Settlement: $125,000. (This is the second of two settlements reached with the school district in 2017 involving hazing of student-athletes.) • Harassment/Injuries: Hazing; Sexual Assault. • Single Plaintiff. • Basic Facts: School district was complicit in pattern of sexualized hazing by senior members of Oak Hills High School football team. The male victim, a freshman on the football team, was forced to the floor by older players and held down while they inserted fingers in his rectum. • Causes of Action: Unknown. • Plaintiff’s Attorney: Vince Finaldi of Manly, Stewart, and Finaldi. • More Information: http://www.vvdailypress.com/news/20171120/hesperia-school-district-settlessecond-hazing-case-for-125k-bumping-payouts-this-year-to-half-million-dollars;

http://www.vvdailypress.com/news/20160930/second-alleged-hazing-victim-sues-oak-hills-highschool-district.

John VZ Doe v. Hesperia Unified School District, No. CIVDS1410904 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2014). • Settlement: $375,000. (This is the first of two settlements reached with the school district in 2017 involving hazing of student-athletes.) • Harassment/Injuries: Hazing; Sexual Assault. • Single Plaintiff. • Basic Facts: School district was complicit in pattern of sexualized hazing by senior members of Oak Hills High School football team. The male victim, a freshman on the football team, was forced to the floor by older players and held down while they inserted fingers in his rectum. • Causes of Action: Unknown. • Plaintiff’s Attorney: Vince Finaldi of Manly, Stewart, and Finaldi •

More Information: http://www.vvdailypress.com/article/20150806/NEWS/150809850;

http://www.vvdailypress.com/news/20170508/hesperia-unified-settles-oak-hills-high-hazingcase-for-375k.

 

4) Doe v. Lake Zurich Comm. Unit School Dist. No. 95, No. 1:17-cv-00834 (N.D. Ill. 2017) • Settlement: $399,000. • Harassment/Injuries: Sexual harassment; hazing. • Two Plaintiffs. • Basic Facts: Two former members of the high school football team were sexually harassed in the locker room, including an unspecified incident in the showers and another instance when one victim was forced to perform oral sex. The victims alleged that sexual and other physical harassment was routinely used to haze new members of the football team, and also alleged that hazing was rampant in the school’s athletic program since approximately 1997. Past hazing included stripping players naked, punching them in the genitals, and sodomizing them with broomsticks. •

Causes of Action: § 1983 claims for violations equal protection and substantive due process rights; state tort law. • Plaintiffs’ Attorney: Antonio Romanucci, Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, Chicago, IL. •

More Information: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-lake-zurich-hazinglawsuit-met-20170201-story.html;

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-zurich/news/ctlzc-district-95-hazing-settlement-tl-1228-20171222-story.html.

 

 

5) Thomas, Jr. v. Chelmsford School Committee, No. 1:2016-cv-11689 (D. Mass. 2016) • Settlement: Confidential. • Harassment/Injuries: Hazing; sexual assault; rape. • Single Plaintiff. • Basic Facts: Special needs student was a freshman member of the high school football team and was repeatedly bullied and harassed by senior members of the football team. At an annual football camp in 2013, the victim was ruthlessly bullied and ultimately held down and sodomized with a broomstick by three members of the team. Later, he was also held down while another student placed his scrotum on the victim’s chin. Students continued to physically and emotionally harass the victim on a daily basis throughout 2014, 2015, and into 2016. •

Causes of Action: § 1983 claims for violations of substantive due process, equal protection, and free speech rights; Title IX claim for deliberate indifference to sexual harassment; IDEA reimbursement claim under 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.; state constitutional and statutory claims; and state tort claims. • Plaintiff’s Attorney: Brian W. Leahey, Law Office of Brian W. Leahey, P.C., Tyngsborough, MA. •

More information: http://chelmsford.wickedlocal.com/news/20170908/settlement-reached-inchelmsford-lawsuit;

http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_31285604/chelmsford-hazinglawsuit-settled-out-court.

 

 

6) OREGON Achcar-Winkels v. Lake Oswego School District, No. 3:15-cv-00385 (D. Or. 2015) • Jury Verdict: $70,000. • Harassment/Injuries: Hazing; sexual harassment. • Single Plaintiff. • Basic Facts: Senior members of Lakeridge High School dance team forced junior members to wear humiliating costumes, play sexually explicit games, dance with and for high school boys while wearing bikinis, and engage in other inappropriate activities. When the junior members complained to an assistant coach, the coaches retaliated against the girls by sending threatening messages to both the girls and their parents and removing them from the jazz competition team. The plaintiff was a junior member of the dance team. •

Causes of Action: Claims under §1983 for violating student’s due process and free speech rights; Title IX claim for deliberate indifference to sex discrimination; state tort claims. • Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Leta Gorman and Diane Lenkowsky, Jordan Ramis PC, Lake Oswego, OR. •

More Information: http://www.oregonlive.com/lakeoswego/index.ssf/2017/11/lake_oswego_teen_hazed_during.html;

http://www.oregonlive.com/lakeoswego/index.ssf/2015/03/family_of_former_lakeridge_hig.

Additional cases entered by Moderator Hank Nuwer will go below. Under construction 7/6/2021

1941

Highmore High School (S. D.)

Athletic hazing, Lettermen’s Club:

Hazing by electrocution

Gerald De Gooyer, 20, a multi-sport athlete was killed by an initiation requiring him to sustain an electric shock.  The  coach  and  an  administrator  approved  the  initiation  and  lost  a civil  lawsuit.