Archive for Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Mediation yields no settlement

December 7, 2005

Despite spending about 90 minutes on the telephone Tuesday with a federal mediator, no settlement was reached in a bullying lawsuit filed against the Tonganoxie school district.

And that means the lawsuit will continue wending its way through a federal appeals court in Denver, according to Arthur Benson, a Kansas City, Mo., attorney representing a former Tonganoxie student who filed the lawsuit.

Benson is bound by law not to discuss particulars about Tuesday's court-ordered mediation session, which was a requirement of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

The lawsuit centers on a young Tonganoxie man's claim that he was bullied for several years before he left school.

In May 2004, the former student, Dylan Theno, sued the local school district in U.S. District Court, alleging he was called names such as "fag," "faggot," "queer," "flamer" and "masturbator" from his seventh-grade year until he quit school as a junior. The suit also said the harassment denied Theno access to an education.

At the conclusion of a trial last August in Kansas City, Kan., a jury awarded Theno a $250,000 judgment against the district. And Theno's attorney is asking the district to pay legal fees of another $250,000.

In October, the school district appealed the jury's verdict to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

The federal appeals process will take several months before attorneys argue the case in front of a three-judge panel.

The $250,000 jury award continues to collect interest -- at a rate of 3.84 percent -- until the case concludes.

In addition, Theno is seeking attorneys' fees from the district, totaling $253,400. U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum, who is based in Kansas City, Kan., has not yet ruled on that issue.

Now that the mediation session proved fruitless, the school district faces a Jan. 30 deadline to file a brief with the Denver court.

"The case will be ready for argument in the middle of March, and may be argued in May or June," Benson said. "If not June, then probably September."

Benson said the appeals court typically takes three months to rule after it hears arguments.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.