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Cyberbullying Lawsuit: Houston Dad Sues Kids

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 20, 2011 6:45 AM

What does attorney Jason Medley do when his child is the victim of cyberbullying? File a cyberbullying lawsuit. Or, more accurately, a defamation lawsuit.

Jason Medley, a Texas attorney, recently filed a lawsuit against three middle school girls. He says that they made defamatory and false statements about his daughter.

Medley's daughter was the subject of a Facebook video, created by the three girls and posted to the social media site. The video allegedly made statements about her sexual impropriety and threats to physically harm the girl, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Medley had originally tried a different approach to deal with the inappropriate video. He sent a cease-and-desist letter to the girls and their parents, indicating that he would sue them if they did not take down the video. He also wanted them to cut off all communications with his daughter, and requested that their families donate at least $5,000 to the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, a nonprofit organization, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The date listed in the cease-and-desist letter rolled by, and Medley never received a response. So, he filed the lawsuit, as promised, the Houston Chronicle reports.

One of the parents said that the three girls told the school principal that they were sorry about the incident, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Cyberbullying is a relatively recent phenomenon. Bullying itself has proven to have devastating consequences on young teens and other children - sometimes leading to suicide. Because of the nature of cyberbullying, relatively few statutes have been enacted that specifically address cyberbullying, which would make cyberbullying a crime. As a result, in most cases, like in this one, cyberbullying can be a civil case - like defamation.

A defamation case is broader - encompassing all cases where a false derogatory or inflammatory statement is made, published to another, caused injury to the victim, and was not privileged.

Whether or not Jason Medley's cyberbullying lawsuit will garner a win in the courts is still uncertain, though it does seem like he has a pretty strong case. And, at the very least, it's a lesson for all bullies out there: you can be sued.

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