Large Lawsuit Settlement Sets Poor Precedent

A federal judge in West Palm Beach, Florida has finalized a settlement, awarding a mother of a child with autism $427,000 for an incident that took place nearly three years ago, when her son was voted out of kindergarten by his classmates. In May of 2008, teacher Wendy Portillo brought Alex Barton to the front of the class and took a vote from his peers whether or not he should remain in class. The youngster lost 14-2.

As upsetting as this case is, the lawsuit award may be equally as troubling.

On a daily basis, many children with autism incur bullying, teasing, harassment or even worse. I can recall multiple incidents over the years where my son with autism has been made to feel like an outcast and humiliated by the cruel actions of others, including adults. Does this mean he is entitled to a six-figure lawsuit settlement as well?  Granted, the Barton incident was exceptionally cruel and insensitive, but did it really warrant a half-million dollar payout, which will eventually be funded by taxpayer dollars?

While I can sympathize with what the Barton family has endured, I’m afraid this is another example of just how litigious our society has become. It also sets a very poor precedent for other parents who will be looking for a payday in the future when their children are treated in unfair or mean-spirited ways. 

Even worse, it sets a poor example for our children on how to resolve bullying, which will inevitably come their way throughout their lives.

One Response to Large Lawsuit Settlement Sets Poor Precedent

  1. Melanie says:

    I know what you mean, Gary. I grew up with autism and children can be very mean and cruel… it always made me wonder *why?* Why are they like this?
    You get one person with a mean streak telling the kids to do something, and pretty soon you get ten kids with aqcuired bullying traits harassing someone whose different. As a child, you don’t notice what might be wrong with you. Kids decide their actions just like any other human being and need to be treated as people – and not persecuted like criminals – people are very unaware of what their child absorbs and so it’s like one incident of abuse/neglect or whatever can lead them down a road of bullying: They know it’s not accepted, they do it cause their kids. :( But they don’t see what it does to their victims in the long run. I turned out okay and I can understand normal kid(s) confusion as to how to act towards someone different. But really, does that give them the right to be bullies?

    Well, probably not. lol

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