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Category Archives: State Anti-Bullying Law

Paul Mazzo v. Town of Fairfield Board of Education: August 20, 2013

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Superior Court of Connecticut.

Paul Mazzo v. Town of Fairfield Board of Education

CV126031781S

— August 20, 2013

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE MOTION TO STRIKE # 118

FACTS

The defendants have moved to strike those portions of the plaintiffs’ second amended complaint which allege statutory negligence arising out of their alleged failure to comply with the anti-bullying statute, General Statutes § 10–222d et seq.   The plaintiffs, Paul Mazzo and Lorraine Mazzo, brought the present action both individually and on behalf of their daughter, K.M., alleging that K.M. was extensively bullied by another student, S.R., while attending Tomlinson Middle School, culminating in an attack on December 22, 2011, which left her seriously injured.   The defendants claim that the anti-bullying statute does not allow for a private cause of action.   For the reasons stated herein, the court agrees.

The plaintiffs filed a third amended complaint on July 15, 2013, the same day that the court took the papers on the present motion.1  The third amended complaint contains twenty-four counts against the Town of Fairfield Board of Education (negligence, statutory negligence, recklessness, liability pursuant to General Statutes § 10–235, liability pursuant to General Statutes § 7–465);  the Town of Fairfield (liability pursuant to General Statutes § 52–557n, liability pursuant to General Statutes § 7–465); 2  David Title, Superintendent of Schools for the Town of Fairfield (negligence, statutory negligence, recklessness);  Connee Dawson, Principal of Tomlinson Middle School (negligence, statutory negligence, recklessness);  Joshua Marko, Dean of Students at Tomlinson Middle School (negligence, statutory negligence, recklessness);  Vanessa Constanzo; 3  Janet Rainford (vicarious liability, negligence);  Vernon Rainford (vicarious liability, negligence) and S.R., ppa Janet Rainford (recklessness, assault and battery, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress).   Title, Dawson, Marko and the Town of Fairfield Board of Education (henceforth defendants) move to strike counts two, four, six and eight of the second revised complaint, which are now counts two, five, eight and eleven of the third revised complaint.   These counts allege that the defendants are liable for negligence for their failure to comply with the anti-bullying statute, General Statutes § 10–222d et seq.   The defendants argue in their memorandum in support that the anti-bullying statute does not allow for a private cause of action.   The plaintiffs argue in their memorandum in opposition that it does so by implication as revised in 2011.   The plaintiffs also submitted a copy of the 2011 bill showing the changes, a question and answer sheet entitled “Bullying Harassment in Connecticut,” which does not clearly indicate its source, and a transcript of the Senate debate on the bill.

APPLICABLE LAW

“The proper method to challenge the legal sufficiency of a complaint is to make a motion to strike prior to trial.”  Gulack v. Gulack, 30 Conn.App. 305, 309, 620 A.2d 181 (1993).   In Asylum Hill Problem Solving Revitalization Assn. v. King, 277 Conn. 238, 245–46, 890 A.2d 522 (2006), the Supreme Court upheld a trial court’s determination on a motion to strike that a statute did not create a private cause of action.

The defendants argue that the anti-bullying statute does not create a private cause of action because it lacks an explicit statement that it does so and there is a presumption that private causes of action do not exist unless expressly stated.   The plaintiffs argue that in amending the anti-bullying statute in 2011 the legislature added a private cause of action.

“[W]e begin our analysis with the well settled fundamental premise that there exists a presumption in Connecticut that private enforcement does not exist unless expressly provided in a statute.   In order to overcome that presumption, the [plaintiff bears] the burden of demonstrating that such an action is created implicitly in the statute ․ In determining whether a private remedy is implicit in a statute not expressly providing one, several factors are relevant.   First, is the plaintiff one of the class for whose ․ benefit the statute was enacted ․ ? Second, is there any indication of legislative intent, explicit or implicit, either to create such a remedy or to deny one?  ․ Third, is it consistent with the underlying purposes of the legislative scheme to imply such a remedy for the plaintiff?”  Perez–Dickson v. Bridgeport, 304 Conn. 483, 506–07, 43 A.3d 69 (2012), citing Gerardi v. Bridgeport, 294 Conn. 461, 468–69, 985 A.2d 328 (2010);  see also Napoletano v. CIGNA Healthcare of Connecticut, Inc., 238 Conn. 216, 249, 680 A.2d 127 (1996) (source of factors, referred to as the Napoletano factors), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1103, 117 S.Ct. 1106, 137 L.Ed.2d 308 (1997), overruled on other grounds by Batte–Holmgren v. Commissioner of Public Health, 281 Conn. 277, 284, 914 A.2d 996 (2007).  “[T]he [plaintiffs] must meet the threshold showing that none of the three factors weighs against recognizing a private right of action ․ The stringency of the test is reflected in the fact that, since this court decided Napoletano, we have not recognized an implied cause of action despite numerous requests.”  (Internal quotation marks omitted.)   Gerardi v. Bridgeport, supra, 294 Conn. 469–70.

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January 28, 2012: New Jersey school anti-bullying law ruled unconstitutional

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Posted by Maria Mangicaro
Bullying Prevention Advocate
mangicaro829@aol.com


Posted: Saturday, January 28, 2012 1:15 am | Updated: 8:51 pm, Thu Mar 8, 2012.

By DIANE D’AMICO Education Writer

Sponsors of the state’s tough new anti-bullying law vowed to continue to fight for the law Friday after it was deemed unconstitutional because the state did not provide money to implement it.

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle D-Bergen, a lead sponsor of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, called the decision by the state Council on Local Mandates devastating for bullied children.

“Rest assured we will review the decision thoroughly to find a way to make this law workable for everyone,” she said.

The Council on Local Mandates was created pursuant to the “State Mandate, State Pay” amendment to the New Jersey Constitution. Under the Constitution, if the council so rules, an unfunded mandate ceases to be mandatory and expires.

The council struck down the law as an unfunded state mandate at a hearing Friday based on a complaint filed by the school district in Warren County, according to Vainieri Huttle and a published report in The Record, Bergen County. The council has not yet issued a written decision; the ruling does not take effect until it does.

The state maintained in its response to the complaint that aid provided to school districts would cover the costs of the law and that existing staff could fill the required anti-bullying coordinator and specialist positions.

However, Allamuchy’s board said there were new costs in implementing new anti-bullying programs and providing training, and to pay stipends to staff named to the new positions.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, another sponsor of the law, said she will work on a revised version, but noted that many districts have implemented the law with no problems and she hoped those efforts would not be abandoned.

“It is extremely disappointing that something as common sense as protecting our kids and making school a safe, nurturing environment has been so quickly tossed aside,” she said.

The bill was signed into law in January 2011 and took effect in September. While there was agreement that bullying should be addressed, school officials expressed concerns about both time and costs involved in requiring specially designated staff to investigate every potential incident of bullying. At a workshop of school administrators in October there were discussions about proposing modifications to the law.

Click here to read more.

From the Law Office of 

NJ Anti-Bullying Law Still Alive

The viability of the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, which I have discussed in  previous posts (here and there), seemed to be in question after the Council on Local Mandates in New Jersey struck it down as an unfunded mandate. Had the New Jersey Legislature not responded in time, the NJ Anti-Bullying Law would have expired on March 27, 2012.

Most people have never heard of the Council of Local Mandates. This is not surprising, since the Council was created in 1995, which is quite recent.  Another reason why most people have never heard of the Council is because the Council’s powers are very limited and can only be exercised in limited circumstances.

In essence, the Council has the “exclusive constitutional authority” to  strike down a law, rule, or regulation that “imposes an unconstitutional ‘unfunded mandate’ on boards of education, counties, or municipalities.”

On January 27, 2012, the Council of Local Mandates struck down parts of the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Law because it is an “unfunded mandate.”

What is an “unfunded mandate”? In simple terms: When a local government entity is required to comply with or implement a statute, rule, or regulation, but there is no money (other than local property taxes) to enable the entity to comply with the law, it is an “unfunded mandate.”

Unfunded mandates are unconstitutional under the New Jersey Constitution,  Art. VIII, § 2, ¶ 5. When the New Jersey Legislature enacts a new law, it must appropriate funds to local government entities so that these entities can comply with the law.

When the New Jersey Legislature enacted the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, the Legislature created a special fund called the “Bullying Prevention Fund.” The money in this Fund would be used to offer grants to school districts to  comply with the NJ Anti-Bullying Law, such as training personnel and hiring more staff if necessary.

But there was apparently no money in the Fund.

So, on September 2011, the Allamuchy Township Board of Education filed a complaint, alleging that no funds had been appropriated for the Bullying Prevention Fund in order for school districts to comply with the NJ Anti-Bullying Law. Therefore, the NJ Anti-Bullying Law was an unfunded mandate. See In re Complaint filed by the Allamuchy Township Board of Education.

The State of New Jersey answered the complaint, requesting that the complaint be dismissed. Allumuchy Township moved for summary judgment. Then, the State of New Jersey cross-motioned for summary judgment.

Over the next several weeks, numerous papers were filed by several special interest organizations. The New Jersey State Bar Association, the LGBTQ Cacus of Rutgers School of Law, and the New Jersey Department of Education, all filed amicus curiae briefs in support of the Anti-Bullying Law. Not surprisingly, a number of Board of Educations filed papers in support of Allamuchy’s position to overturn the law.

All of these events (and corresponding documents) are well documented on the Council of Local Mandates’ website.

On January 27, 2012, a hearing was held. On that same day, the Council determined that the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Law was an unfunded mandate.

Click here to read more.

From New York: New Statewide Anti-Bullying Law Goes Into Effect July 1, 2012

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Posted by Maria Mangicaro
Bullying Prevention Advocate
mangicaro829@aol.com

Published on Jun 1, 2012
FLORAL PARK — A new statewide anti-bullying law will go into effect on July 1. The Dignity for All Students Act, signed into law by then Governor David Paterson in 2010, seeks to increase awareness and education about bullying in schools. The law mandates that all schools create anti-bullying programs, create codes of conduct to prevent harassment and report all bullying incidents on school property to the state. FiOS1’s Ron Lee reports

Massachusetts State Senators Mark Montigny on Anti-Bullying Law

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Uploaded on Sep 23, 2011

CP206: Massachusetts State Senators Mark Montigny (D) and Bruce Tarr (R) discuss the new anti-bullying law in the commonwealth. Hosted by Bridgewater State University Political Science professors Dr. George Serra and Dr. Michael Kryzanek.