Student newspaper adviser dismissed from invasion of privacy lawsuit

2005 Student Press Law Center

September 23, 2005

CALIFORNIA A lawsuit filed against a high school newspaper adviser after the paper named a student as a victim of Internet bullying has been dismissed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Movie producer Lee Caplin and his wife Gita filed a $100 million lawsuit in April against a number of officials at the prestigious Harvard-Westlake School, including Chronicle adviser Kathleen Neumeyer, after derogatory and threatening comments about their son were posted by students at the school on a Web site devoted to his performing career.

The student newspaper at the private North Hollywood school published a story about the incident, reporting that law enforcement agencies were investigating and that the targeted student, who was named, had transferred to a school in northern California.

According to the Caplins' complaint, the defendants' actions constituted civil rights violations, invasion of privacy, defamation and infliction of emotional distress among other claims.

According to Neumeyer's attorney, E. Randol Schoenberg, the complaint against his client was dismissed on Aug. 31.

Schoenberg said his client was prepared to launch an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) counter claim, leading to the Caplins dropping the complaint against Neumeyer.

Under state anti-SLAPP statutes, a person defending against a lawsuit that threatens free expression may file a special motion to get the claims dismissed. If the judge finds the motion has merit, the individual who filed the original lawsuit can also be required to pay the defendant's court costs and attorney fees.

The lawsuit against other school officials and parents of the students accused of the Internet harassment is ongoing.

By Kyle McCarthy, SPLC staff writer