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[P]
Student wins $10k damages from school for parody site.

By CyberQuog in News
Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 06:06:17 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

A student, with help from the ACLU has won $10,000 in damages from his school system, after posting a parody of his school's website. The news release from the ACLU can be found here.


To summarize the news release:

Karl Beidler, from the North Thurston School District and Timberline High School, was suspended in 1999 for creating a parody of his school's webpage that ridiculed the administration. The webpage was created on his own computer, on his own time. He was rewarded $10,000 in retribution, and $58,000 in attorney fees.

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Was this the correct thing for the school to do?
o Yes 9%
o No 28%
o Who cares? 6%
o ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US 56%

Votes: 98
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Related Links
o ACLU
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Student wins $10k damages from school for parody site. | 20 comments (13 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
lawyers win $58K (3.33 / 6) (#6)
by scruffyMark on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 02:04:25 AM EST

Who is the real winner in this court case? The same people who win every court case - the lawyers. As reported, the vast majority of the money awarded, the kid will never see.

The Scientologists have got it right - the goal in a lawsuit is not to win, but drive your opponent into poverty by making them spend as much as possible on attorneys' fees.

I wonder how much the school district payed its lawyer(s)...

Lawyer fees (4.75 / 4) (#7)
by Nyarlathotep on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 03:28:00 AM EST

Actually, it said he was awarded 10,000 damages and the 58,000 lawyer's fees. This means that he (or the ACLU) spent 58,000 and the court felt that the case was legitimate enough that he should be repaid for his out of pocket expences. If the lawyer had only cost 1000 thene he would have only been paid 11,000 total.

The courts will not always award layer fees even if they award damages, but they should almost always award lawyer fees when it is a case of the government abusing our basic civil liberties. Would you prefer to see no one stand up for civil rghts since the damages can not possibly cover the lawyer's fees?

Actually, these lawyer were standing up for this kids right, so I'd love to see the courts pay them more. We have too many lawyers who are just happy to get a pay check and are unwilling to try to make a profit by fixing social problems.

Anyway, this is a case of the court making exactly the currect decission (execpt that the damages should have been higher): the school district violated his civil rights, so it should be required to pay damages and pay for the cost of recouping those damages. I'm shure this whole mess cost the school district over $100,000, so if about 10 more people do this then the school districts will find it cheaper to just find principals with some basic understanding of the constitution and civil rights.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
not my point, really (none / 0) (#20)
by scruffyMark on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 05:30:21 PM EST

I agree with you that the court did absolutely the right thing to award legal costs to the kid. What I object to is simply how tremendously expensive legal fees are. In many cases, you can win a case, and still be poorer than you started - when legal fees are not awarded, or when your opponent simply can't pay the fees.

Hence the reference to the Scientologists. They often start lawsuits they haven't a hope of winning, but where they know that they have a lot more money than their opponent. They essentially force their victims to resort to attorneys, and then once they are penniless from legal fees, settle for a pittance, or just drop the case altogether. It doesn't matter what the courts find (if the case even gets to court), the Church of Scientology won.

Warning: rabid anti-lawyer rant follows. I don't really hate lawyers.

What do lawyers actually do that is worth the amount they charge? They protect us from other lawyers, without actually accepting any risks. If they fail to protect us, they still charge us, and they go off to find someone else to exploit. They are the only group that can be counted on to profit from litigation, and they will usually profit several times more than anyone else involved.

I wonder, would it be smarter, if someone sues you, to represent yourself in court? Sure, you are virtually ensuring that you will lose, but you limit your costs to the actual damages awarded, quite likely less than legal fees anyway. Not only that, but it will probably be over much faster, without two sets of lawyers dragging the case out for their mutual gain, so you can get back to your own life sooner.

What school are you at, Nyarlathotep? Are the unfortunately named Crusaders then a universal plague?

[ Parent ]

We all win! (4.33 / 3) (#8)
by www.sorehands.com on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 03:32:25 AM EST

The function of all lawsuits (especially by the ACLU and the EFF) is not to get money. There are some cases that are brought to enforce rights and to make points.

Even when a jury award huge amounts of money, they are doing it to make a point. Juries are usually only allowed to award money, therefore that is why money has to be awarded.



------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.barbieslapp.com
Mattel, SLAPP terrorists intent on destroying free speech.
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[ Parent ]

And that point will save us money (4.66 / 3) (#11)
by 0xdeadbeef on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 12:08:40 PM EST

With this ruling, schools will be far less likely to engage in this sort of behavior in the future. That means they won't waste our tax dollars policing students' free expression, and they won't waste it by provoking lawsuits when they punish students for their opinions.

[ Parent ]
I had already heard about this a few days ago. (3.00 / 1) (#12)
by Captain_Tenille on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 01:47:48 PM EST

Why, you might ask? Well, it's been in the news in Olympia for quite some time, and I have been pretty good friends with his older sister for quite some time (and I met him once, too). In any case, I'm certainly glad that it's getting attention outside of the greater Olympia area, but it just seems odd that someone that you're vaguely acquainted with makes national news.

Anyway, here's an article with a local take on the case.
----
/* You are not expected to understand this. */

Man Vs. Nature: The Road to Victory!

National News... (none / 0) (#13)
by CyberQuog on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 02:40:17 PM EST

I don't know if I'd call it national news, but I've been following the case for awhile because the same thing happened at my school to a couple of my friends.Anyway, I heard about it from the ACLU's mailing list.
-...-
[ Parent ]
It's nice to see the precedent (none / 0) (#14)
by weirdling on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 04:44:36 PM EST

I'd been feeling the jaws of righteous indignation ever tighter around my throat for some time now. It's nice to see the pendulum swing the other way for a bit. Maybe I ought to pay dues to the ACLU...
It is nice that the ACLU got lawyer's fees and court costs; normally they do this kind of stuff for free.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
Which kind? (4.00 / 1) (#19)
by fluffy grue on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 01:22:50 AM EST

Is that Free(Speech) or Free(Beer)?

:D
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Greedy Mr. Beidler... (1.80 / 5) (#15)
by Daemosthenes on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:19:06 PM EST

Sure, free speech is a great thing...but think of the consequences of this ruling: In costing the school district approx. $68000, this Karl Beidler has just robbed an entire district of students of their ability to receive a better education through better teachers, better equipment, etc. The student was suspended for a short period of time, but in following through with his case, he has just deprived an entire school system's worth of students of the quality education they could recieve with that money; in reimbursing the lost time he recieved, he in turn deprives numerous other students of their own learning. The entire case seems a bit spiteful to me. As I already stated, free speech is great, and is essential to the existence of each American citizen. However, if Mr. Beidler had trult been interested in free speech, he would have merely sued for an apology and a rescinding of the suspension from his records rather than a sum of $68000.

-
Schools have insurance (4.00 / 2) (#16)
by Iron_SpermWhale on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 08:55:08 PM EST

Schools get sued all the time. That's why they have insurance. The insurance company will gladly pay out of pocket, and continue to protect the school. They might up the rates if the school has a habit of getting sued, but this is far from depriving a whole class of a teacher and a few books (what this decision was worth). His case goes a lot farther towards securing students rights in general than it goes against the education of a few students at his school.

[ Parent ]
<rolling eyes> (2.50 / 2) (#17)
by tzanger on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 12:01:06 AM EST

Sure, free speech is a great thing...but think of the consequences of this ruling: In costing the school district approx. $68000, this Karl Beidler has just robbed an entire district of students of their ability to receive a better education through better teachers, better equipment, etc. </P.

Give me a break! This smacks of Trollish stench. The school fucked themselves out of $68k plus their own lawyer's fees by going after this kid to begin with! If you attack me and I beat you to a pulp for it do you blame me for your injuries? Is it not your fault for attacking me in the first place? This kid deserves kudos, not ridicule.

However, if Mr. Beidler had trult been interested in free speech, he would have merely sued for an apology and a rescinding of the suspension from his records rather than a sum of $68000.

It's not up to the plaintiff to declare how much he gets; that's the jury's job. Sure the plaintiff says "I am suing for damages" but the jury awards the cash.



[ Parent ]
Not greedy really... (none / 0) (#18)
by Jebediah on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 12:23:40 AM EST

While $68,000 sounds like a lot, the jury awarded the money ($10,000) and $58,000 to cover the lawyer fees. Were the lawyers bloodsuckers? Yes. As somebody else in this same thread noted schools have insurance to cover lawsuits. Even if the school spended even a cent of their own money in anyway it is their own damn fault. If they would have sucked in their pride the lawsuit need not have happened.

[ Parent ]
Student wins $10k damages from school for parody site. | 20 comments (13 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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