Filed with the SUPERIOR COURT, FRANKLIN COUNTY, WASHINGTON
Jan. 22nd 2003
HIGH, Plaintiffs, vs.
PASCO SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendants.
This case is an action brought by the parents of a junior
high school boy who committed suicide on September 29, 1998, as a consequence
of a major depressive episode brought on by his violent beating at the
hands of a known school bully at the school gymnasium. The case was
previously the subject of a motion for summary judgment by the defendant
school district, and the court is encouraged to review the summary judgment
briefing and Judge B.'s resulting order, before reviewing the trial briefs
of the parties.
In the spring of 1998, Jared High was an excited 12 year
old boy, who had just been selected as a 6th grader to be the manager of
the 8th grade “B” baseball team. A special education student, he
became the target of an 8th grade bully, who subsequently terrorized him,
beat him up and threatened to kill him, all on the premises of Pasco Public
School District No. 1 (“the District,” hereafter). On May 6, 1998,
the bully, Andrew S., found Jared alone in the gym after a baseball practice,
where Jared had gone to call his brother to come pick him up and take him
home. Andrew S. was not only two years older than Jared, he was nearly
double Jared’s size: 177+ pounds vs. 96 pounds, according to both boys’
medical records. Andrew S. assaulted Jared, beating him badly enough
for a physician two days later to find contusions on his back, neck, abdomen
and right thumb. Blood was found in his urine. Jared had also
been vomiting for two days after the beating, and complained of diarrhea
and inability to sleep. His family chiropractor took comparison x-rays,
which showed a spinal deviation apparent even to a lay person.
The middle school vice principal who handled the matter
with the boys the next day interviewed the bully and the victim at the
same time, and concluded that it was a “mutually engaged fight.”
Without referring to either boy’s prior conduct and discipline history,
and in violation of the District’s policy of progressive and equitable
discipline, he suspended both boys for three days, and Jared was sent outside,
alone, to wait for someone to come take him home.
A special education student, Jared had difficulty with
language, both written and spoken, receptive and expressive, and math.
Andrew S. was bright and articulate, with a “bad boy” attitude and a long
history of anger and violence, stretching back to the second grade.
A few days later, Andrew accosted Jared in the locker
room at McLoughlin Middle School, and threatened to kill him. He
was given a long-term suspension , upon which he requested a hearing.
On May 14, 1998, a hearing was held, and solely on the basis of his conduct
during his eighth grade year, Andrew S. was found to present “a clear threat
to safety and welfare of the other students and staff . . .at McLoughlin
Middle School.” The suspension would last through the end of the
school year, so S. was referred to the R.E.A.C.H. Alternative Middle School
to finish out the year. The administrator for that program interviewed
S. and looked at his discipline record, and concluded that the boy presented
too great a threat to the safety of the program’s staff and students, and
refused to accept him.
The High family will testify about the extent to which
this beating and unfair punishment changed Jared High. Even after
the physical trauma had mostly subsided by the end of July, he had become
a different boy: sullen, irritable, crying easily, complaining all summer
of being unable to sleep at night, tired and listless during the day, losing
interest in the things he had enjoyed before, isolating himself from the
rest of the family. He had a substantial weight gain at the end of
the summer. His family was psychologically unsophisticated, and did
not recognize until too late the symptoms of the depression that finally
caused Jared to take his own life.
In August, Jared and his parents,
decided to transfer him to Hanford Middle School rather than to return
to McLoughlin. He started school at Hanford in September, a few days
late. He established quick friendships, and indicated to family and
friends that he liked the school much better than McLoughlin, but he was
not allowed to participate in sports due to the history of "convulsions"
for three days from the beating by S. He continued to have
difficulty in school, and was not doing his homework. The depression
which had dogged him during the summer continued.
He had a birthday party the weekend after his birthday,
September 23, when he turned thirteen. Most of the kids who attended
the party were new friends from Hanford. He’d invited several kids
to his party upon meeting them for the first time. Some attendees
noticed at times that Jared seemed to isolate himself from the group, but
all in all he appeared to enjoy the party, and his guests enjoyed themselves.
On September 28, Jared went home from school with a friend
to the friend’s house, after telling his mother of his plan when she came
to pick him up. After she brought him home that evening, she and
his father talked with him about his continuing failure to do his homework,
because he had not brought his books home. After some discussion,
Mr. High asked Jared how he could help Jared with his homework if he didn’t
even bring his books home. Jared shrugged his shoulders and went
The next morning, Mrs. High had difficulty getting Jared
out of bed and out of his room to go to school. He climbed a tree
in the back yard, and refused to come down or go to school. After
discussing the situation with her husband several times during her efforts,
she finally relented, and told him he did not have to go to school, but
could not watch television, a long-standing family rule when children stayed
home from school. She called her husband at his work, distraught, and related
the morning events. They agreed that Jared had not been himself since
the beating, and that they should get him into counseling. She was
late for work, put the television set in the car to enforce the rule, and
left for work.
Mr. High was at his desk, looking at his firm’s benefits
booklet to figure out how to arrange counseling for Jared, when the telephone
rang. It was Jared, who announced he had just called to say “Goodbye.”
Mr. High tried to engage him in conversation, but there was no response,
and he heard a “pop,” a sound like something falling, and then silence.
Not knowing what to think, he drove home. He found his son on the
floor of the family in-home office, dead from a bullet wound to his head,
with the telephone off the hook and a .22 pistol on the floor next to him.
Mr. High had thought the handgun secretly hidden in a master-bedroom drawer,
separately from the magazine. He had trained Jared how to shoot,
and the basics of gun safety. Touching any of his guns without his
presence and consent was forbidden. The children were not allowed
in the parents’ bedroom in their absence. He did not know Jared knew
where the handgun was located, and does not know to this day when or how
Jared found it or the magazine.
When one of the officers who responded to the 911 call
asked why Jared might do such a thing, Mr. High commented that Jared had
not been himself since the beating. When told the name of Jared's
assailant, two of the police officers indicated they knew of Andrew. S.
yes, we know him!")
This action is brought by Jared High’s parents for the
loss of their relationship with their son, and their loss of his love and
companionship. Mrs. High also brings this action as Personal Representative
of his estate.
The following are the issues to be decided by this court
or tried to the jury::
1. Given the District’s actual and imputed knowledge of
the risk of harm Andrew S. presented to other students, was the District
negligent in its prior handling of Andrew S’ long-standing behavior problems,
discipline and discipline records? See - http://www.jaredstory.com/trial_brief01.html
2. Was the District negligent in its supervision
of Andrew S. and the location of the beating on May 6, 1998? See
- Jury Instructions:
3. Was the District negligent in its investigation
of the assault on Jared High, and its decision to punish the victim of
that assault equally with the perpetrator? See - http://www.jaredstory.com/trial_brief03.htmlMore
information at a later time.
4. Has the District wrongfully destroyed evidence
of Andrew S’ prior conduct and its knowledge of that conduct? [This issue
is the subject of a separate pre-trial motion and brief, and will not be
further addressed here.] (The District abused the discovery process
and wrongfully withheld production of a pertinent District Policy and Procedure,
relating to the creation and retention of student discipline records, #
3600 and #3600P) See - http://www.jaredstory.com/trial_brief04.htmlMore
information at a later time.
5. Did Andrew S. commit the intentional tort of
assault of Jared High on May 6, 1998? See - http://www.jaredstory.com/trial_brief04.htmland
Assault on Jared High..
6. Are C. S. and J. R. H. liable for the intentional
conduct of Andrew S.? See - http://www.jaredstory.com/trial_brief06.html
7. Was the negligence and intentional conduct of
the defendants a proximate cause of Jared High’s development of a major
depressive psychological condition which gave rise to an irresistible impulse
to kill himself? See - http://www.jaredstory.com/trial_brief04.htmland
the Declaration of Dr. Alan Berman - The
Forseeable Consequences of Bullying.
8. Is there any evidence that would allow a jury
to conclude that Mr. or Mrs. High were guilty of willful and wanton misconduct
with regard to the death of their son? See - http://www.jaredstory.com/trial_brief08.html
9. What damages are legally recoverable by Mr. and
Mrs. High and Jared’s estate as a result of his death? See
10. Is intentional conduct of Andrew S. or Jared
High “fault” to be allocated? See - http://www.jaredstory.com/trial_brief10.html
11. Should the jury be instructed on forseeability
as an issue of causation as well as an issue in the determination of the
school district's duty? See - http://www.jaredstory.com/trial_brief11.html
Plaintiffs will show that the defendant District and defendants
S. and H. were negligent in their supervision and discipline of Andrew
S., and that the District negligently investigated the assault and wrongfully
punished equally the perpetrator and the victim. It is clear that
Andrew S. assaulted Jared High. The evidence will indicate that these
physical and psychological traumas caused this vulnerable child to develop
a major depressive condition which gave rise to an irresistible impulse
to kill himself.
His parents are entitled to recover damages against the
defendants for the expenses associated with Jared’s injury treatment and
death, and their loss of the love and companionship of their son, their
grief and mental anguish and the loss of their relationship with Jared
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED this 22nd day of January, 2003.
By: Jay E. Leipham, WSBA # 4961
(Attorney for Brenda High)
HIGH v. PASCO SCHOOL DISTRICT
TRIAL BRIEF & FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Complaint for Damages
Rest of the Story
- The Forseeable Consequences of Bullying
the Pasco School District wouldn't help Jared
Court Case about Videos
on a bus & bullying
HEAR JARED'S VOICE - PLAY
- From an interview with Pasco School District investigators concerning
the assault. This is a recording of a recording and it isn't real
clear, but worth the download effort. Jared had a real mellow voice.
Note: If you have a slow load wav, wait for it to load entirely and then
play again from the start. 5 minutes long