The families of two local students are suing the Hamilton County school system for alleged negligence in bullying cases.
The family of Cameron Nixon is seeking $1 million for what they claim was bullying at Signal Mountain Middle-High School. Their suit says their seventh-grade son's head was pushed into a concrete wall during a football team meal. The suit says the boy suffered physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress and lost future earning capacity.
The family of Taylor Zukowski is seeking $500,000 in damages from an incident at Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts. Their suit claims their son was a victim of sexual harassment and bullying by a group called the "ghetto girls." It claims teachers and employees were aware but didn't act to prevent it and as a result the boy suffered physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress and lost future earning capacity.
School board attorney Scott Bennett didn't want to comment on the specifics of the cases. But he said the school system will contest its liability in both cases.
"Based upon our investigation to date, neither case appears to be one of liability," he said.
Bennett said he investigated the Zukowski case months ago when lawyers approached the school system.
Gary Massey, whose firm is suing in both cases, said the suits should help bring the universal problem of bullying into the public light.
"Both of these lawsuits are symptomatic of an epidemic in our schools around this country," Massey said in a news release. "Our school administrators need to take these events seriously. They are in the best position to prevent devastation to innocent children, their families and loved ones."
Contact staff writer Kevin Hardy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6249.