Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ board has been named as one of the defendants in a notice of civil claim related to an alleged 2016 bullying incident. (Cliff MacArthur/provincialcourt.bc.ca)

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ board has been named as one of the defendants in a notice of civil claim related to an alleged 2016 bullying incident. (Cliff MacArthur/provincialcourt.bc.ca)

School board being sued over alleged bullying at Nanaimo high school

Civil case advanced through the court system Thursday, goes to trial in September

A student and his guardian are seeking damages from Nanaimo-Ladysmith school board, two students and one other person after an alleged bullying incident in 2016.

A notice of civil claim was filed in 2017 and the case has been going through the legal process since then. There was a pre-trial application filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo on Thursday, March 11.

In the claim, the guardian alleges their child, at the time a John Barsby Secondary School Grade 10 student, was assaulted by two Grade 12 students on June 3, 2016 in the school hallway. The student suffered a concussion, headaches, facial lacerations, bruising and neck, shoulder and back injuries and he has a loss of attention span, quality of life and suffers from anxiety, the claim states.

The claim alleges the two students were “notorious bullies” who regularly engaged in verbal and physical abuse of students. In relation to the incident, the students’ actions were of a “malicious, oppressive and high-handed nature” and weren’t provoked.

According to the claim, the school district had an obligation to protect the plaintiff from danger “reasonably foreseeable” and fell short of “required standard of care” as it “failed to properly discipline” the two when it seemed that not doing so would lead to more bullying and abuse. The district was aware of the two Grade 12 students’ previous actions and didn’t discipline them properly, which could have acted as a deterrent, said the claim. The other respondent in the case had a duty to supervise and control the activities of one of the Grade 12s, the claim said.

In the district’s response, it agreed that an altercation involving the students occurred that June, but denied it occurred as per the plaintiff’s claim. It denied the plaintiff suffered injuries as a result of the run-in “as alleged or at all,” and denies knowing of the students’ reputation as “bullies.” All discipline, whether related to the incident or in general, was “reasonable and [was] administered in accordance” with school district regulations, the district claimed, and the incident couldn’t have been foreseen, as it was an “extraordinary event.”

In their responses, the man and the Grade 12 students claim the Grade 10 student “consented to engage in physical confrontation” with the other two as he dropped his backpack and began pushing one of the Grade 12s, one of whom had suffered numerous concussions in the past. While the plaintiff claims the man is a father of one of the two, the man denies that and says he was not in a position of authority concerning the student.

The plaintiff “was known to be abrasive [and] confrontational in activities that led to physical confrontations with his victims,” who included Barsby students, and prior to the 2016 incident, took part in a “prolonged campaign of cyber bullying” against one of the Grade 12 students and his peers, the responses said.

Among the damages sought by the plaintiff are compensation for wage losses and medical expenses in the past, present and future.

None of the claims by any of the parties have been proven in court. The trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 20.

In an e-mail, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools said it had no comment as it is a legal matter.

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