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Mother Owes Student $15,000 For Emotional Distress

by Joseph C. Maya on Apr. 19, 2017

Other Education Accident & Injury  Personal Injury Lawsuit & Dispute  Lawsuit 

Summary: Blog post about a case where a student was able to recover $15,000 from the mother of a fellow student for libelous statements made by the mother.

If you have a question or concern about special education law, school administration, federal standards, or the overall rights of a student, please feel free to call the expert education law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. in Westport today at (203) 221-3100 .

In the case of O’Connor v. Meyer, a student and his parents, sued a fellow student and her mother for intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, invasion of privacy, and parental liability. They sought compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorneys fees. In order for the plaintiff to prevail in a case for liability under intentional infliction of emotional distress, four elements must be established. It must be shown: (1) that the mother intended to inflict emotional distress or that she knew or should have known that emotional distress was the likely result of his conduct; (2) that the conduct was extreme and outrageous; (3) that the mother’s conduct was the cause of the student’s distress; and (4) that the emotional distress sustained by the student was severe.

The fellow student, who was politically conservative, was offended when the complaining student, who was politically liberal, compared Ronald Reagan to Adolph Hitler. They had an argument. The fellow student became hysterical and called her mother. After that incident, the fellow student and her mother made continuing accusations against the student and the mother continued to bring up the student's sexual orientation. At one point, the mother went to the court and filed an application for relief from abuse, pursuant to Connecticut law and policy, on behalf of the fellow student. She obtained a restraining order after falsely stating the student had a prior dating relationship with the fellow student. The court found that the student had proven his claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress against the mother only. He also proved his claim of libel per se against the mother only. As the action was a civil action, and the mother knowingly made false statements, the student proved his vexatious litigation claim. The student's parents failed to prove their claims. The fellow student and her mother failed to properly plead their special defenses.

The court awarded the student $ 15,000 as to the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, $ 10,000 as to the libel per se claim, $ 10,000 as to the invasion of privacy by false light claim, and treble damages of $ 13,507.26 as to the vexatious litigation claim. He was entitled to punitive damages as against the mother. The student was ordered to file an affidavit with respect to attorneys fees and costs

If you have a child with a disability and have questions about special education law, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq., at 203-221-3100, or at JMaya@mayalaw.com, to schedule a free consultation.

Source: O'Connor v. Meyer, 2008 Conn. Super. LEXIS 3118 (Conn. Super. Ct. Dec. 5, 2008)

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