Prestigious school sued for $2m by bullying victim
ONE of the state's most prestigious private schools is being sued for $2 million in a landmark case for allegedly failing to protect a former student from school bullies, claiming regular beatings have triggered brain damage, obsessive compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder.
The now-20-year-old Brisbane man attended Brisbane Grammar School on an athletics scholarship and alleges he was bullied between 2013 and 2015 in a claim filed in the Supreme Court last month.
The man says he was grabbed in a headlock and punched in the neck, lashed in the calves with a computer cord, choked with a computer cord for 30 seconds by a group of boys and repeatedly punched in the face by other boys.
Many of the attacks were on the school oval during the lunch break when he would play soccer, and other attacks were in stairways, between buildings on the school's sprawling campus and also in a cabin at school camp, the claim states.
Boys also played pranks on the victim, such as faking a written scholarship offer from rival school Churchie, and humiliating him by throwing his hat off the science block in front of other students, the claim states.
The man says in his claim that the school should have investigated who was bullying him and stopped it, and should have noticed he was absent for classes on 110 occasions in 2015, and on 160 occasions in 2014, and that his academic marks had fallen from Bs to Ds between Year 8 and Year 10, and tried to find out why.
He claims that after he was "punched repeatedly in the face" by a student in February 2015 and then later that day choked for 30 seconds by another boy, he told his dad, who allegedly approached a teacher to report the abuse, but the assaults continued for months.
The man, who competed for the school in GPS athletics competitions, left the school in Year 10 in 2015 and completed his schooling elsewhere.
He names his alleged bullies in the claim.
The claim alleges the school breached consumer laws by failing to provide schooling that complied with its own anti-bullying and child-protection policies and offered enough supervision to prevent bullying on the oval at lunchtime.
The school's distinguished alumni include rugby player Stephen Moore, author David Malouf, Powderfinger musician John Collins as well as High Court judges, Rhodes scholars and former state governor Sir John Lavarack.
The $2 million compensation claim is calculated upon the man having anticipated earnings of $2000 a week until the age of 70, as well as lifetime medical and psychiatric treatment costs of $200,000 for his PTSD, traumatic brain injury, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder.
The man used his pension card to obtain a discount on court filing fees, court documents show.
Solicitor Mark O'Connor from firm Bennett and Philp told The Sunday Mail that his client was an intelligent young man and had the potential to have "done anything" in his chosen career, until the bullying marred his future leaving him with "a myriad of serious issues" including severe psychological problems.
"He has problems which we think are likely going to hold him back," Mr O'Connor said.
"He may be commercially unemployable."
Mr O'Connor said lawsuits seeking damages for school bullying are "not common" because students must prove the school was aware of the bullying, or should have been aware of it.
He said in his nearly 40-year career as a personal injury lawyer he had only ever been involved in one similar school bullying case that made it to court.
Mr O'Connor said one of the cases he would be relying on is a NSW decision where schoolgirl Jazmine Oyston received more than $500,000 damages for bullying between Year 7 and Year 9 at St Patrick's College Campbelltown.
Brisbane Grammar School acting headmaster David Carroll told The Sunday Mail in a statement that the school was "aware of this claim which is before the court and as a result we are refraining from any comment save to say the claim will be fully defended".
The school has not filed a defence and no hearing date has been set
Originally published as Prestigious Brisbane school sued for $2m by bullying victim