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Settlement OK’d in lawsuit over fight at Falls school bus stop

NIAGARA FALLS – A Niagara Falls teenager will receive more than $7,000 on her 18th birthday, her share of a $15,000 settlement approved Thursday in a lawsuit over a fight at a school bus stop.

The girl, who suffered a dislocated left shoulder when she was knocked down in the fight, was 15 at the time of the incident Oct. 28, 2013.

Her father, John Harris, sued the Niagara Falls School District and Niagara Falls Coach Lines, the district’s bus operator, claiming negligence.

Niagara Falls School Superintendent Mark R. Laurrie said the school district and the bus company will each contribute 50 percent of the payment.

Harris’ attorney, J. Patrick Lennon, said in Niagara County Court Thursday that Harris’ daughter was being “bullied and harassed” by another student at Niagara Falls High School that day.

“They kicked the kid out of school, but they let her go home on the bus,” Lennon told Judge Matthew J. Murphy III. It turned out to be the same bus Harris’ daughter was riding.

The court file includes a medical report from the emergency room at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, in which the injured girl was quoted as saying she was “jumped at the bus stop” after the ride home.

“One of the fathers encouraged the fight to continue,” Laurrie said, citing a memo from a principal about the matter. He said the students had no known history of ill will before that day.

Lennon said at Murphy’s direction, he wasn’t allowed to answer questions about the case because a child was involved. Also declining comment was Kelly J. Phillips, attorney for the school district’s insurer, Hanover Insurance.

A document filed in the County Clerk’s Office said the $15,000 payment would be used to cover the girl’s unpaid medical bills, totaling $3,501, as well as legal fees and expenses for Lennon’s firm, Rosenthal Kooshoian & Lennon. It received one-third of what was left after the medical bills were paid, plus $537 in expenses.

The girl ended up with $7,307, which will be deposited in an interest-bearing account she can access after she turns 18. Her father, receives nothing.


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