Saturday, May 3, 2014

North Brunswick school board pays $20,000 to settle alleged bullying victim's lawsuit.

On June 24, 2013, the North Brunswick Board of Education (Middlesex County) agreed to pay $20,000 to a former North Brunswick High School student and his parents who sued the school's football coach for subjecting him to "bullying and abusive conduct."

In his suit, former student Nicholas Fabian, together with his parents Richard and Dawn Fabian, said that Nicholas was participation in the North Brunswick High School football program in 2009 when football coach Mark Zielinski subjected him to bullying and abuse that was subsequently joined by other players and students.  The family claimed that Superintendent Brian Zacowski and Principal Brian Brochel were aware of the bullying but did not prevent it. The family claimed that the bullying required them to pull Nicholas out of North Brunswick High School and place in him parochial school.

The case is captioned Fabian v. Township of North Brunswick School District, Federal Case No. 3:12-cv-05964 and Fabian's attorney was Gregory J. Sullivan of Hamilton.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Fabian's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $20,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by North Brunswick or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that North Brunswick or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Fabian $20,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.