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Posted September 20, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Bullying lawsuit is dismissed

By Joe Beck

A federal judge has scrapped a lawsuit filed by a Winchester couple against the city school system.

The couple, Robert and Catherine Augustine, accused school officials of failing to stop the bullying and harassment of two children under the Civil Rights and Rehabilitation acts. The Augustines have been guardians of the children for 17 years, according to online court records.

U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski issued an order Tuesday upholding an earlier finding by U.S. Magistrate Judge B. Waugh Crigler that determined the Augustines had failed to a state claim in their lawsuit.

The Augustines objected to the finding, but Urbanski said in a written opinion filed online that Crigler's conclusions were "substantially correct and the plaintiffs' objections overruled."

The Augustines represented themselves and sought $150,000 from the school system.

Crigler determined that the Augustines failed to identify a proper legal entity as the defendants when they filed the suit in May.

"The magistrate judge has properly reviewed the applicable law and determined that the Winchester Public School District is not a legal entity capable of being sued," Urbanski wrote in his opinion. "Furthermore, plaintiffs were given the opportunity to amend their complaint to name a proper defendant. Although plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, they persisted in naming Winchester Public School District as the defendant. To simply assert that one thing means another is insufficient grounds for objection at this stage of the proceedings."

Urbanksi also rejected other arguments made by Augustines that raised issues such as gender discrimination; the right of non-attorney parents to file lawsuits on behalf of minor children; and due process rights.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com


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