Local News

September 27, 2012

Longs appeal judge’s decision in bullying case

The parents of a teen who committed suicide in 2009 have filed more paperwork to appeal a federal judge’s dismissal of their lawsuit that claimed Murray County Schools and a local principal were at least partly responsible for the child’s suicide.

W. Winston Briggs, the Atlanta-based attorney for Chatsworth residents David and Tina Long, said he filed a brief on Friday with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. The school system and Murray County High School Principal Gina Linder have 30 days to respond, he said.

A message left for the school system’s attorney wasn’t immediately returned on Wednesday, but school officials and their attorneys have said repeatedly the school system acted appropriately. The Longs’ lawsuit claimed 17-year-old Tyler Long was the target of years of bullying at the high school, which school officials failed to stop.

Long took his life while he was at his home in October 2009. Judge Harold Murphy stated in an opinion dismissing the suit that the school system “did not have a constitutional duty to ensure Tyler’s safety from private actors.”

Briggs said if the appeals court reverses Murphy’s ruling, the case would go back to the same court, and presumably the same judge, for trial. Briggs said he doesn’t expect a ruling for at least several months.

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