Carl Junction School District seeks social media records of student in wrongful death lawsuit

Jul 21, 2014 by

Attorneys for the Carl Junction School District want to see all of the Facebook messages, photographs, videos and other electronic communication saved by a high school student before he took his own life in 2013.

The request, filed earlier this month, is part of the district’s response to a wrongful death lawsuit filed last year against the district by parents of the 14-year-old boy.

Jessica and Mika Nugent, Carl Junction, filed the nine-count lawsuit last year, alleging the school district failed to protect their son from bullying, which led to him taking his own life. The lawsuit was initially filed in Jasper County Circuit Court, where it was transferred to U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

The name of the child has been redacted from online court records.

‘Fishing expedition’

“It is critical to defendants’ defense that they be able to fully explore any information that may reveal (the boy’s) mental state as well as circumstances or factors that may have caused or contributed to (his) death,” argue Sarah Schmanke and Thomas Mickes, attorneys with the St. Louis lawfirm of Mickes, Goldman and O’Toole.

Their request includes all photographs, images, documents, videos, website pages, website links or files saved by the boy between Jan. 1, 2012, and May 15, 2013, according to court documents. The defense also requests that for every cell phone the boy used, the plaintiffs produce the Internet browser history or histories from the same time period.

But attorneys representing the parents said the school district and its attorneys cannot describe with “any particularity” what it is they are hoping to find to justify such an extensive invasion of the Nugents’ privacy.

“This is a fishing expedition, plain and simple,” wrote Jonathan Soper, Daniel Thomas and Kenneth McClain, attorneys from Independence representing the boy’s family.

“Plaintiffs respectfully ask this court to sustain plaintiff’s objections, just as it would if defendants were seeking every paper document (the boy) and his family created, viewed or handled in a 15-month period.”

Messages left for the Nugents were not returned; calls to the Independence law firm representing the family were not returned on Thursday or Friday.

via Carl Junction School District seeks social media records of student in wrongful death lawsuit » Top Stories » The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO.

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