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Jury awards $3.8M to high school student shot by classmate

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2019 | Serious Injuries |

Even with an increase in school shootings across the nation, it is not only shocking but also heartbreaking to learn about such an event in California. Some shootings are a random attack of violence, and many others are a result of issues between two classmates. Whether a problem erupted or festered over time, a school district owes a general duty of care to ensure that all students are safe from harm while they are on campus.

During January of 2013, a shooting took place in a science classroom at a Golden State high school in Bakersfield. The shooter testified at his trial that he fired at two classmates who bullied him, but he only injured one of them. The then 16-year-old injured student filed a lawsuit against the school district. According to, the jury awarded him $3.8 million after finding that employees of the school district ignored red flags that could have prevented the shooting.

School district found liable

While the school district’s legal defense argued that administrators could not have known that the student would carry out a shooting, the jury held the district 54% liable for the incident. The district stated it has taken steps to improve its students’ safety. The family suffered hardships dealing with the student’s injuries, but they are hoping that the verdict gives school districts a wake-up call about their liability in campus shootings.

Schools must take more action to prevent bullying

As reported by Campus Safety magazine, empowering both the bully and the victim to resolve their issues has shown to be an effective strategy for reducing conflict. Teachers and school administrators may find it helpful to take the initiative by devoting increased efforts to promoting and building a more positive campus culture.

Bullying takes a variety of forms, including physical violence, verbal attacks and online harassment. They may all result in serious personal injury. School districts should consider implementing increased safety measures and more effective programs to prevent bullying, shootings and other types of campus violence.