A former student-athlete and his parents have filed a lawsuit against the Rock Hill school district because of a 2013 incident that left the student seriously injured.
The lawsuit claims the district and some of its employees conspired to silence the student and protect the reputation of Northwestern High School and its football team, rather than protect the student.
However, school district officials deny any wrongdoing by any employees, and want the lawsuit dismissed because it was filed after the statute of limitations expired, court documents show.
Civic Campbell and his parents are asking for punitive and actual damages from a beating that required facial reconstruction surgery, and allegedly caused humiliation and harmed Campbell’s ability to help his future through sports accomplishments, the lawsuit claims. Campbell was “made a pariah” by students and school district employees, and Campbell claims he was excluded from the team and bullied by students who knew his attacker, the lawsuit alleges.
School officials “engaged in a pattern of coercion to silence” Campbell to prevent him from transferring to another school because it would result in “bad press” media coverage, and Campbell would be able to use his football skills against Northwestern the following season, the suit alleges.
The family filed the suit because the attack affected the younger Campbell’s prospects for the future and the school district did not support him at the time he needed that support, said Jason Burgess of Schiller and Hamilton law firm, which represents the Campbells.
“There is a responsibility of the school to take care of students when crimes happen in their buildings and on their watch,” Burgess said Friday.
The suit first was filed in South Carolina state court, but transferred this week to federal court, records show.
In the response filed Friday to the federal lawsuit, lawyers for the school district deny that Campbell was bullied. The school district claims there was no conspiracy and no school employees witnessed the incident or failed to assist Campbell.
The school district “denies any actionable conduct on its part or its employees and denies that Plaintiffs are entitled to any recovery,” the response from school district lawyers, Jasmine Drain and Tom Barlow, states.
The suit alleges that Campbell, as a Northwestern student and football player in December 2013, just days before the state title football game, was in class at the district’s technology center when he was attacked. Campbell suffered lacerations, bruising, and broken facial bones, the suit claims.
The suit also alleges that Campbell initially said he was hurt in a fall because he feared he would not be allowed to play in the state championship game if he had been involved in an altercation.
Campbell needed hospitalization and aftercare and still, four years later, retains “physical and psychological damage” from the assault, the suit alleges.
The other student, court records show, was later convicted in criminal court of the assault.