When people suffer serious injuries be it on the highway or in a building, it can be difficult to obtain information. At-fault drivers or negligent building owners may seek to stop the truth getting out. Recently in Georgia, a newspaper took legal action for information on a classroom incident that led to an amputated leg.
The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer filed a Superior Court lawsuit in early January demanding the Muscogee County School District release a surveillance video of a 2016 confrontation between Montravious Thomas, a student, and a behavior specialist at Columbus’ Edgewood Student Services Center.
The student was 13 at the time of the encounter. The newspaper’s lawsuit followed numerous open-records requests and legal negotiations between attorneys representing the newspaper and the school district.
The school district refused to release its video footage involving the boy and the contract behavior specialist who restrained him on Sept. 12, 2016. Just a month after the incident, Montravious’ right leg was amputated below his knee.
The district has maintained it will release the video if Montravious’ family gives it permission. The Ledger-Enquirer’s attempts to secure that permission from the family were unsuccessful, so the media company filed suit.
The lawsuit stated that when the district originally denied the newspaper’s request, it said the information requested by The Ledger-Enquirer represented an invasion of personal privacy. The lawsuit claimed the school authority said the information falls under the definition of an ‘educational record’ under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. As such, it would be protected from production.
Lawyers for the newspaper said the federal law protecting the privacy of student records does not apply in these circumstances.
The attorneys say the video does not represent a student record. The claim said surveillance videos serve a different purpose and should not be withheld based on a claim that they are covered by FERPA.
The lawsuit asks the court to set a legal hearing. It seeks to get the district to release the video, and award lawyer’s fees and other expenses to the newspaper.
An amputated leg is a very serious injury. When injuries of this nature occur, it’s vital to find and use all available evidence. Call our Georgia personal injury lawyer today at (404) 913-1529.