A jury found the South Glens Falls School District’s negligence was not a factor in a local bullied teen’s death.
They say the district was negligent; however, it was not a factor contributing to Jacobe Taras’ pain and suffering, or his death.
Christine and Richard Taras, Jacobe’s parents were seeking $9 million in damages for pain and suffering, plus additional $250,000 for wrongful death.
The wrongful death suit was filed against the South Glens Falls School District and four school employees.
The school employees were hugging one another after the verdict came down.
The civil trial chronicles the days and weeks leading up to 13-year-old Jacobe’s death. Jacobe killed himself in 2015 because he was being bullied at school.
He left a note, writing he could no longer put up with the bullies.
The defense said the district did not know Jacobe was being bullied.
It was difficult for his parents, who have had to relive their son’s death over and over this week.
“They’re strong people. You don’t get this far in life after going through something like without having an amazing amount of inner strength,” Ryan Finn, Taras’ attorney, said.
“There’s one witness who actually identified any specific acts that could be characterized as bullying. And that witness proved to be not credible on several other key points,” Malcom O’Hara, Defense attorney, said.
Jacobe’s parents say it was never about the money. They wanted to give a voice to any child who may be quietly suffering at school.
“If we become the brick and the mud that someone gets to step on to walk through the door to give our children a voice in the school, that’s what we did. Jacobe’s voice was heard. And believe me, there will be changes in that school system.”
Christine says she is embarrassed her son ever went to South Glens Falls schools.
“The teachers can lie and deny and not recall and walk out patting each other on the back and smiling. I don’t get where anybody should have had a smile on hair face.”
“I don’t think anybody here thinks there is a winner in this case. I think what we saw was a sense of relief and certainly, our hearts continue to go out to the Taras family,” John Wright, a defense attorney, said. “These are educators who care for children. Jacobe’s passing was a loss for the district.”