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Will the Tyler Clementi Family Sue Rutgers?

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on December 23, 2010 5:52 AM

Will the parents of the Rutgers student who committed suicide this past fall sue the university for their son's death? The parents of Tyler Clementi, who killed himself in a case of cyberbullying. He committed suicide after his roommate allegedly streamed video of Clementi having sex. His parents have now filed a court document indicating they wish to preserve the right to sue.

Jane and Joseph Clementi filed a notice of claim which will protect their right to file a lawsuit within the next few months, reports CNN. The Clementis will undertake more investigation. The notice appears to allege that Rutgers University failed to "enforce policies and practices that would have prevented or deterred such acts, and that Rutgers failed to act timely and appropriately."

The university has released a statement of sympathy for the grieving family, but says it was not responsible for Tyler's death. The university stated it understood "the family's sense of loss of their son, who was a member of our community," and also recognizes "that a grieving family may question whether someone or some institution could somehow have responsibility for their son's death."

Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge after it was discovered that his roommate and another student allegedly streamed live footage of him having sex with another man. Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi, 18, and Molly Wei, 18, have been charged with invasion of privacy.

The school could conceivably be held liable if it had any prior knowledge of the situation. Or if, say, Tyler had put the school on notice with a previously complaint or report of alleged cyberbullying and Rutgers failed to act.

Both students, through lawyers, have proclaimed their innocence.

In November, CNN reports, the Clementi's family agreed to lend Tyler's name to the anti-harassment federal legislation now known as the "Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act." The bill would require schools that receive federal student aid "to create policies prohibiting the harassment of any student," said New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

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