A suburban Chicago mom is suing her third-grader's school and the bully she claims routinely attacked her son, along with the alleged bully's parents.
Deveri Del Core's complaint, filed on behalf of her son, alleges he's been the victim of weekly beatings and death threats over the past year. According to Reuters, Del Core was also fired from her job in the school's cafeteria after she filed the complaint.
If the allegations are proven, what kind of liability could the school and the bully's parents face in court?
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Parents Liable for Conduct of Kids
Parents are generally held liable for the actions of children under 18. In this case, the mom's suit alleges assault and battery by the bully against her child.
Similar to criminal assault, civil assault is the intentional placing another in apprehension of offensive contact. In other words, it's making someone think he's going to get touched in a way he's not going to like.
Assault is typically coupled with battery, which in both civil and criminal cases is the actual touching of someone in a harmful or offensive way, such as punching, kicking or shoving someone.
This bully's parents may be held liable any injuries suffered by Del Core's son that caused by their son's actions.
School Security Failure Alleged
The suit also alleges the school district is liable for failing to provide adequate security against the boy's bully. Del Core's complaint says that she repeatedly reported her son's harassment to officials at Robert Frost Elementary School in Mount Prospect, Illinois, but that they did nothing about it.
School districts are increasingly facing lawsuits related to bullying, with states such as Massachusetts passing bullying-specific laws prohibiting bullying on school grounds and mandating schools to implement bullying policies.
Retaliation Is Wrongful Termination
Del Core's lawyer told Reuters that he plans to add retaliation to the causes of action in her lawsuit, as Del Core was fired from her job with the school district after she filed her lawsuit.
Generally, employers aren't allowed to terminate an employee for filing a claim against her employer. An employer who retaliates against an employee who has filed a lawsuit or a report to a government agency may be liable for wrongful termination.
The school district's superintendent declined to comment about the lawsuit, Reuters reports. The alleged bully's parents were not available for comment.