Thursday, February 21, 2008

Plaintiffs Withdraw Lawsuit Against OUSD

After three days of trial, three years of controversy, parents withdraw complaint

SEE EARLIER POSTS AS TRIAL BEGAN

By Daryl Kelley
Three days into a Superior Court trial, parents who’d claimed their children were harassed after they complained about profanity and sexual content in a book withdrew their lawsuit against the Ojai Unified School District, ending three years of controversy and expense.
Parents Betty Craven and Jeff and Rosalyn Luttrull abruptly withdrew their suit Thursday morning, following opening statements Wednesday and testimony by veteran teacher Linda McMichael that she did not retaliate against girls in her fifth-grade class after their parents complained about a book she assigned to counter playground bullying.
In interviews, the parents said they ended the case because federal and state judges had so narrowed its scope it would have little effect, and because they feared their children would be harmed by testifying.
Ojai educators named in the suit said they were relieved that they can finally put a costly nightmare behind them and get fully back to the business of education. The district is still tabulating the cost of the case, which is being covered by insurance, and Superintendent Tim Baird said he could not immediately provide an estimate.
But Jeff Luttrull said he’d spent about $100,000 pressing the claim through federal and state courts, and seeing its breadth dramatically reduced by judges. “It was a matter of principle,” he said.
Standing in an emptying courtroom Thursday morning, McMichael, a 26-year teacher at San Antonio School, said she was crying with relief.
“I’m in shock; I’m overwhelmed,” she said. “It’s been a lot for three years to hold onto.”
She said the suit had changed her forever: “I’m much more diligent about what I do and fearful,” she said. “It’s affected all the teachers in our district because everyone is now terrified of litigation.”
Baird, also a defendant in the case, said he was relieved and that the district’s actions had now been proven justified.
“I would say it was a waste of money and time,” he said. “And I’m glad it’s over.”
But Jeff Luttrull, a Ventura eye surgeon, said he still believes the district had been negligent in its oversight of the content of books assigned in local public schools. But he said the final straw was the limiting of the surviving negligence claim in recent days by Judge Henry Walsh, so jurors could not rule on whether the district was negligent for allowing the controversial book into the classroom, but only on whether educators were negligent in allowing retaliation against the girls.
“They’ve gotten immunity from most of the things I was concerned about,” he said. “So it was now basically, ‘he said, she said.’ It’s two little girls, and all we can ask the jurors to do is form an opinion. I’m not interested in putting the jurors through that, and I’m not interested in putting the girls through that.”
Craven said the decision was simple in the end.
“After opening statements, I could see how it was going to go regarding the girls,” she said, “and I couldn’t put my girl through that. Initially, it was just stand up for the right thing, but seeing how the system would have worked, I couldn’t put her though it. It would cause more harm than good.”
The decision to withdraw followed opening arguments Wednesday afternoon during which the parents’ lawyer, Cathy Elliott Jones, occasionally sparred with Judge Henry Walsh.
As she ended about 45 minutes of summary statements, Walsh assisted her in regaining her train of thought: “You were going to talk about the loss of innocence,” he said.
And Jones responded: “I was going to use an analogy, but I don’t want to make you mad.”
Prompting the judge to say: “This case is not about you and me.”
Then, while Jones was questioning McMichael on the stand, Walsh asked Jones to sharpen and clarify her questions, at one point saying he didn’t understand what she was asking the teacher.
Jones has refused to discuss the case with the Ojai Valley News, saying it has not treated her clients fairly.
On Wednesday, the aftenoon before the parents ended their case, a nervous McMichael testified that she never retaliated against the girls, but said she finally concluded they should be moved from her class because their parents told her superiors they no longer trusted her.
“I liked these girls,” said McMichael, who has taught her entire career at San Antonio School, a tiny East End campus. “The kids, in my mind, didn’t feel like I was picking on them.”
The spring 2005 dispute tore the tight-knit San Antonio School community apart, with one side calling for McMichael’s removal and the other saying she was being bullied by overly protective parents.
Although McMichael immediately withdrew the controversial book and school officials changed district policy on use of such supplemental materials, parents of three girls removed them from the school after a series of events they said harassed their children.
The parents filed a lawsuit in September 2005, claiming negligence and retaliation by school officials and a violation of the students’ and parents’ civil rights. Of the nine original counts, judges reduced the case to the single negligence claim. Parents of the third child had already dropped out of the lawsuit.
As Jones’ first witness, McMichael acknowledged that several weeks into the controversy she asked her superiors to move the girls into another class.
“I started to think some of the things I did might be considered retaliating,” she said. “The parents made comments that they did not trust me, and I had 28 other kids in my class I needed to teach.”
Early on, in a meeting with Baird, those parents had asked that the teacher be removed from her classroom because she lacked judgment in assigning the anti-bullying book, which contains several explicit passages about sex and drug use and the pressures on children to engage in both at a young age.
McMichael’s written request to move the girls followed six weeks of community debate about whether the book, which she assigned only to fifth grade girls, was appropriate for young girls and whether she and her superiors had responded to the turmoil appropriately.
She, Baird, school principal John LeSuer and the district were defendants in the case. Craven and the Luttrulls sought monetary damages for the girls’ emotional distress and to pay the mounting costs to educate the Luttrulls’ children in a private school. Craven’s daughter remains in a public school.
On Wednesday, Jones questioned McMichael about several incidents the lawyer said showed retaliation against the complaining families.
“Are you feeling well today?” Jones immediately asked McMichael.
“No,” the teacher said nervously.
Jones asked McMichael about an incident that prompted the parents to remove the girls from the school: When the teacher allowed a student to read a ‘current event’ about the book controversy in class and call for support of the teacher.
McMichael testified that she knew nothing of the content of the current event before the student began to deliver it, and then she had to make a snap judgment about whether it was better to allow the girl to finish the short presentation or to stop it, which she said would have highlighted the issue in the minds of others students.
“I can certainly see how it could be perceived to be bullying to the girls,” McMichael acknowledged. “I had been trying all along to keep this out of the classroom, so for me to have said anything about this to the entire class would not have been good judgment.”
Yet, McMichael said she was horrified by the presentation, and immediately apologized to two of the girls in private. The third girl had left the school and complained to her parent.
The next day the parents withdrew their children from the school.
During opening arguments, Jones said the case was about the “loss of innocence” by young girls being exposed to inappropriate material and then abused by school district officials when their parents dared complain.
The lawyer dwelled on the language and content of the book McMichael had assigned: “Please Stop Laughing at Me,” an autobiographical account of teen-age bullying by Jodee Blanco. On 15 large placards, Jones displayed the curse words and sexual situations found in several parts of the book.
For example, when the author wrote that she had handed her high school yearbook to a boy on whom she had a crush, the boy inscribed in capital letters: “YOU’LL HAVE TO (EXPLETIVE) YOURSELF, WE HATE YOU, B---H.”
“We’re not here because we’re right-wing zealots,” Jones told the jury. “We’re here because of what happened when (the Luttrull child) protested. These little girls were 10 and 11.”
Until the controversy, Jones said her clients received good grades for citizenship from McMichael, and the Luttrull girl was chosen a peer counselor by the teacher. Then they were characterized as trouble-makers.
“Two or three weeks earlier they were shining little beams of light ... ,” Jones said. “What happened in a matter of weeks, days? ... Suddenly, they became troublemakers, they became bullies.”
Nor were the parents troublemakers, the lawyer said. The Luttrulls had long supported school fund-raising events and Rosalyn Luttrull had volunteered in her daughter’s classroom. Craven, a single mother with a daughter with learning problems, had spent her time trying to meet her child’s special needs.
Jonathan Light, lawyer for the district, said the case was about the over-reaction of parents to what his clients admit was an inappropriate book for fifth-graders, but which had been used successfully the previous year without parent complaints.
Before the book was distributed, McMichael had asked the parents in a note to read the book with their children, but they did not until the Luttrull child complained about the content, he said.
The book was immediately withdrawn by McMichael, who apologized to the parents, he said. And it was only after they insisted that the teacher be fired and continued a campaign against her that the dispute escalated into a community debate, he said.
Indeed, district officials thought the issue had been resolved after parents met with Baird, LeSuer and McMichael on March 30, a week after they’d first complained about the book to the teacher.
He described the educators’ response as “rational, reasonable, quick.”
But three weeks later, Jeff Luttrull distributed fliers at the school asking parents to attend a school board meeting to complain about the book: He attached examples of the book’s most controversial passages to the flier, Light said.
“Dr. Luttrull’s flier was the catalyst that upset the community,” Light said.
About this time, Jeff Luttrull allegedly said: “I want Linda McMichael fired and if the district doesn’t do it, I am going to sue and make them pay,” the district’s lawyer told the jury.
“And that is why we’re here today,” he said Wednesday.
Luttrull denied that he asked that McMichael be fired, although he did ask that she be reassigned.
The trial was expected to last up to 10 days before it was dismissed Thursday morning.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank Goodness it's over. Support our wonderful local schools and say goodbye to CATHY ELLIOT JONES!

Anonymous said...

I'll toast to that!

Anonymous said...

What\'s everybody\'s problem with Cathy Elliot Jones?

Anonymous said...

Jeff Luttrell got his much deserved karma by hiring Cathy Elliot Jones as his attorney. He paid a lot of money for a very unprofessional display of disorganization in the courtroom. What an angry and pointless waste of taxpayer money!! and what B.S. to say they pulled out of the trial early as not to traumatize their daughters. For the last three years it was o.k. to subject their children to the witness stand, and then when their day in court arrived they got a conscience? This was a complete power trip, and I am glad that Jeff Luttrell had the sense to throw in the towel. He is an evil angry scary man with one hell of a Napoleonic complex. I think having him as a father would be far more traumatic than an hour on the witness stand!!

Anonymous said...

So, now we know why the schools are low on funds. They have to spend their already tight funds defending themselves against frivolous and doomed litigation.

Anonymous said...

I think you'll find a more well written article over on the Ventura Star site. I don't quite understand the attacks on Cathy Elliott Jones by both the OVN and the commentors? She was just doing what she was hired to do by her clients like any good lawyer would have. Sounds like the fact that she apparently chooses not to talk to the OVN ruffles their feathers a bit. Teacher McMichael is quoted as saying - the suit had changed her
forever: “I’m much more diligent about what I do and fearful,” she said. “It’s affected all the teachers in our district because everyone is now terrified of litigation.” - I think a little fear of litigation is a good thing if that's what it takes to have the "diligence" to keep this admittedly inappropriate material out of the classrooms of 5th graders. and If nothing more than the fact that because of this lawsuit renegade teachers are now excercising "diligence" in the classroom, then Cathy Elliott Jones must have done something right!

Anonymous said...

Who\'s admitting that the material is inappropriate?

Anonymous said...

Even the author of the book said the material is appropriate. Ms. McMichael agreed that some parts of the book were heavy, thats why she assigned the parents to read it WITH their children. Thats why she assigned the parents to READ IT FIRST.

Sondra Murphy said...

Anonymous Feb. 22 3:18 AM:
Where are you reading "attacks on Cathy Elliott Jones" by the OVN? While I am certainly seeing them on this blog, I'm looking at both stories by Mr. Kelley, and cannot find anything that attacks Ms. Jones.
Are you assuming all Anonymous posts (other than your own) are by OVN staff?

Anonymous said...

what will be interesting now that this trial is over and the community can maybe start learning what's really gone on (excuse me but what "community dialogue" has their been?) maybe we can start asking such important questions like: Are books about bullying which contain content which I would say most children in America are exposed to whether they or the Lutrull's like it or not, including references to sex and violence(imagine...in America!?...no....where?) So, by denying the existence of such things do we teach our kids to deal with it? And, what is the Luttrull's real rub in all this? "Not right wing zealots," ... really? And not fundamentalist Christians either? How about after the trial which the good Doctor left early...who helped Cathy Elliot Jones remove her huge signs from the court room...egads...Linda McMichael and her attorney! Will the "real" Christians please stand up!
The "good" Christian Lutrulls had already gone home. After all, it was all about them really. When the reality started sinking in about what a needless and expensive sham this all was, the Lutrulls pulled up their tents and left...not wanting to expose their daughters to reality. How very unreal and irresponsible. And the cost to the taxpayer...and how did this ever get to trial anyway...but of course Doc Jeff just blamed that on everyone else. Perhaps, it is Lutrull who is the bully. Also, extremely revealing that we all have to sign on as "anonymes". Why is that? Small town fear of course, the same pressure and karmic results which will ultimately come back to bite the Lutrulls on the behind. I read that book, and it's just my take, but
I don't think it was worth making three years of someone's life hell.

Anonymous said...

I read the book as well. Both of my daughters attended San Antonio and had Linda Mc Michael as a teacher. There have been bullying problems at San Antonio (as there are on many campuses around the country). There is NOTHING in that book that these students have not seen or heard before. The references to sex and drugs are minimal (and in fact the book DISCOURAGES both), and far less upsetting than the Holocaust, or accounts of flesh falling from the arm of a living person after the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, yet books that describe these are the the state's list of accepted literature for young children.
I would encourage parents throughout the district (as well as anyone who has been following this case) to read the book and judge for yourselves. Ask your children, grandchildren, etc what they know and think about the bullying that goes on at our schools. Don't fool yourselves that these are issues isolated to public schools either. Wherever children gather, it can become a problem. When my own daughter was bullied and I contacted the parent of the bully, I was told that his behavior was normal, and that I should just get over it (this included such behavior as poking her with his pencil in class, tripping her in P.E., and hiding her homework in his desk, so that she would get a recess detention). He was careful to ensure that no adult ever witnessed the behavior. I find it disturbing that these parents took an hysterical approach, rather than arranging to speak with Mrs. Mc Michael face to face, in a civil manner. I also find it disturbing that they seem to feel no culpability for not reading and/or following the advice in the letter that the teacher sent home prior to assigning the book. For such involved parents, they really seem to have dropped the ball.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Suza Francina said...

The author of the book in question, Jodee Blanco, came to visit me here in Ojai back in 1997.

In case anyone is curious about the status of the book,here is a link:
http://www.jodeeblanco.com/

Since its release, Please Stop Laughing at Me… has enjoyed phenomenal success including heading straight to the New York Times Best-Seller list. Other highlights include:

• Please Stop Laughing at Me… is now required reading and summer reading in hundreds of middle and high schools, colleges, and universities coast to coast. The book is routinely taught as part of curriculum

• Jodee’s remarkable story has been featured in such influential media outlets as: CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, FOX News, Teen Newsweek, Parade magazine, Teen Guideposts, Hispanic, Teacher Magazine and Scholastic

• Please Stop Laughing at Me… has been published in Japanese, Arabic, French, Danish and Indonesian

• Jodee’s life story has become part of a permanent exhibit at the Chicago National Historical Society. She was chosen as one of the most influential teens of her era

• Please Stop Laughing at Me…is nominated for the 2004-2005 Eliot Rosewater Award sponsored by the Association of Media Educators and the Indiana Library Association

• Please Stop Laughing at Me…was selected as a favorite by student members of Chicago’s Mayor Daley’s Book Club. The annual convention keynoted by Jodee brought a sustained standing ovation for both her and the book

• Dramatic interpretations of Please Stop Laughing at Me…are garnering state-winning awards in school competitions

• Please Stop Laughing at Me…has been selected as the One Book, One Community selection for the 2005-2006 school year in Lansing, MI. Over two thousand students will read the book throughout the school year, culminating with a keynote address in March, 2006 by Jodee

• Please Stop Laughing at Me… has become a standard among book clubs throughout the country, most especially among mother/daughter book clubs

Anonymous said...

Anonymous blogger says Cathy Jones "was just doing what she was hired to do by her clients like any good lawyer would have."

That is one school of thought of what a "good lawyer" is.

Personally, I prefer the school of thought articulated by Elihu Root, a prominent New York lawyer of the 1920s:

''About half of the practice of a decent lawyer is telling would-be clients they are damned fools and should stop.''

Anonymous said...

It seems that some are too busy bullying here, to address the original concerns of bullying in the school. I wonder where the children learn it from?

Anonymous said...

Good job to OUSD for standing up to The Luttrells, Betty Craven and Cathy Jones. It is to bad they don't have to pay all the cost of the district. They should!!!! They quit because they knew the truth was coming out and what a joke it would make them look like in the community. Guess what Bullies do not win.

Cathy Elliott Jones said...

I have been following the comments on this blog, which amounts to little more than hate speech from a minority who slam the plaintiffs in this action with gutless, "anonymous" bile that outdoes any bullying Jodee Blanco purports to have endured (and thank you, Suza, for predictably inserting yourself into this controversy without even having read the book and without noticing your own statement that the book has been used in middle schools, NOT grade schools, and even in the case of the former, you can be damned sure there was a permission slip involved). One of you -- again lacking the courage to identify yourself -- even attacked one of the children involved because "some [unidentified] parents" said she was "the bully."
I took this case because I represent parents and kids. Any initial hesitation on my part was personal and had nothing to do with the merits of the case. I supported these parents and kids when they chose to publicly stand up and fight, and I supported them when they decided to spare their girls and let it go, even though I would have preferred to see it all the way through. My admiration for their public display of courage is as great as my disdain for you cowards who now seek to disparage and humiliate them (so long as you can do so under the cloak of anonymity, because you lack the character and internal fortitude to take responsibility for your own bilious self-loathing).
Some of the things you don't know -- because the OVN predictably declined to report it -- was how many jurors had to be dismissed because they were so appalled by the exposure to fifth graders to the language, violence and sexual content of the book that they felt they could not be unbiased. Others had to be dismissed because of their own bitter experiences of challenging a teacher or school district -- some decades old yet still fresh and painful in their minds -- that they felt they could not be impartial.
Whether you agree with them or not, the Luttrulls and Betty Craven deserve to be commended for standing up for what they thought was right, a characteristic that is evaporating in a world where fear of retribution allows people to sell their very souls, and those of their children, in order to be spared the equivalent of having vicious comments about them scrawled on a junior high school bathroom wall. And that's all you pitiful people are doing; scrawling on a junior high school bathroom wall because you are jealous, immature, and sorely lacking in critical thinking skills.
See you next time.

Cathy Elliott Jones, Esq.
Ojai

Anonymous said...

Ms. Jones,
Have you ever won a case?
V/r...Bunny Cromunger

kilgore trout said...

Have these parents or mrs jones ever heard what 5th and 6th graders are really exposed to. Try listening to their conversations and get a dose of reality. Right wing zealots represented by a looney attorney. "Maybe we are still in Kansas Auntie Em"

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Murphy,

This is in response to your earlier post as to how the OVN has attacked Cathy Elliott Jones. For years I have watched the OVN (under the leadership of Bret Bradigan) take any potshot it could at Ms. Jones to try and destroy her reputation. My guess is it’s because of her long association with a competing publication, and her refusal to play ball with the OVN. In this instance, Mr. Kelley’s article states the judge “had to assist her to regain her train of thought”. The fact is that there is no way for Mr. Kelley to know what was going through Ms. Jones head at the time and therefore it is merely his opinion which does not belong in a news story, and besides what does it have to do with the news story anyway? It obviously is just a dig at Ms. Jones. Maybe a little background will help you understand the jerk you are working for. I think your boss Bret Bradigan has had a personal vendetta against Ms. Jones for multiple reasons, for instance, her many times over the years Ms. Jones has shown that Bret Bradigan wouldn’t know good journalism if it bit him in the butt. Or perhaps because his soon-to-be ex-wife’s involvement in the Arcade redevelopment project that resulted in the Busy Babe lawsuit against the city. And since this blog seems to be a place where anyone can attack with impunity, why don’t we delve into how much of a scumbag your boss Bret really is? Were you aware that your precious Mr. Bradigan is quoted by that same soon-to-be ex-wife that he was gloating about “destroying Cathy Elliott Jones” when the OVN ran the story of her arrest at the candidate’s forum? And speaking of that candidate’s forum, why is the OVN in the process this very moment of preparing another hit piece on Ms. Jones about her settlement with the County, when the settlement took place months ago? Curious timing isn’t it? Did you also know that Bret is a philandering home wrecker? And not only did his philandering destroy the life of one of Ojai’s nicest citizens and his children, but while he was sleeping with this man’s wife he was still advertising his ego-inflated stud services on Match.com. Nice guy, huh? How about his violent temper? Besides his vicious physical assault on Ren Adam, maybe you should check out his divorce transcripts. And by the way, although I’m quite sure you wont believe it, I do have documentation to everything I’ve said here. So go ahead and keep your head in the sand if you choose, but just remember that many people know the truth about Bret and the OVN and it’s only a matter of time until he takes you and your colleagues down with him.

Anonymous said...

We're suppose to take an anonymous slander campaign against the Editor of the OVN seriously? How can we ask for this "documentation" you claim to have if we know not who you are? What is your personal vendetta against the OVN? In order to accurately judge information, we must first understand who is offering it and what their bias might be. Isn't this the very finger YOU are pointing at Mr. Bradigan? What's fair for the goose......

If you would like to see Ms. Jones' true colors, pop over to the OjaiPost archives where a very nasty back and forth took place after the death of the Voice's Jeff San Marci (sorry I think I got that spelling wrong). The result was Ms. Jones telling everyone that she was monitoring the Post and would take any and all to task for anything she considered slanderous or prosecutable. (my paraphrase, not a direct quote from her.) No third party documentation needed here, it's all her own words. The Post banned her and several others for inappropriate behavior as a result of the exchange.

Anonymous "February 24, 2008 4:49 PM" may be on to something here. Many Ojai adults seem quite adept at bullying their way through life. Small wonder that kids today follow suit.


B Dawson

shaman ike said...

Might I suggest, in an effort to salvage what little civility remains in this berg – that I be allowed to carry out an exorcism on Cathy E. Jones, Esq. Further, that this letting of demons/bile be performed at Libbey Bowel (next full moon) complete with leaches, jimson root knockout paste and, of course, a veil of thorns for her ladyship.

Guided by ALL our ancestors and the goddess moon... Shaman Ike

PS: Nordoff marching band together with rockin’ ron (and his band — the foxy lady experience) have agreed to perform as warm-up acts!!

Anonymous said...

Here! Here! A truly ripping idea, Shaman Ike!

I'll bring the Absinthe and Salvia divinorum! Perhaps the drum group from Libby would join us as well.

B Dawson

Anonymous said...

Use your name, Joel. Everybody knows it's you. Your writing style is a dead giveaway.

James Hatch said...

Let's face it, a lot of these comments justify the book on the basis that children are exposed to other social pitfalls, so there should not be a problem with exposure to this book. This ethical relativism is disturbing. Carry out the analogy: Children in plighted inner cities are exposed to gang violence and drug use so therefore exposure to prostitution is just a fact of life and the parents should just get used to it.

Justification of one wrong based on the prevalence of other wrongs does not make the first wrong right.

If the teacher requested the parents read it first, can't the inference be drawn that it is inappropriate?

I still would like to know how much this lawsuit cost the taxpayers. From the articles, it would appear it was all paid for by insurance? Is that the case?

James Hatch will stay above the fray of name calling. James Hatch deals with problems and solutions, rather than the petty squabbling and finger pointing.

jim hatch in '08! said...

James,
you think (????) the insurance company would (possibly!) pass the cost onto district?

James Hatch said...

To an apparent campaing supporter,

The point of my question regarding insurance: Is this insurance part of a self-insured pooling fund, much like the one Oxnard Unified has as referenced in the Star online article today? Is it a policy of insurance, like an auto policy, where you pay a premium and are then given a defense?

The actual costs of defending this litigation is yet to be addressed.

Sondra Murphy said...

Dear Mr/Ms. Anonymous Feb. 22 3:18 AM and/or Feb. 25 11:17 PM:

Thank you for clarifying that Mr. Kelley's "attack" on Ms. Jones and her reputation boiled down to a sentence about her train of thought. I must say that your comment "The fact is that there is no way for Mr. Kelley to know what was going through Ms. Jones head at the time and therefore it is merely his opinion" seems very lawyerly (as does "impunity" and "divorce transcripts.")
I myself have lost my train of thought on occasion. It makes it easy to recognize in others, especially when observed by a skilled and veteran reporter, such as Mr. Kelley. He may, perhaps, read your critique and so choose to use direct quotes next time he has the good fortune of covering a trial involving Ms. Jones.
Your comment that such opinion "does not belong in a news story" is positively editorial.
"What does it have to do with the news story anyway?" A newspaper frequently comments on the occupational techniques displayed by athletes, administrators, politicians, entertainers, etc., as well as lawyers. Peruse any issue of the competing publication so referenced and you will see such observations.
I'm afraid you have mistaken my lack of interest in the personal lives of others as evidence of an inclination for keeping my "head in the sand." The fact is that there is no way for you to know what was going through my head… Oops. Is that plagiarism or do I have impunity?
I would like to assure you that I am quite capable of recognizing jerks when encountered, but appreciate your touching concern for my colleagues and me.
I consider myself duly warned. I shall prepare to be taken down and will update my resume. May I list you as a reference?

Anonymous said...

Touche, Sondra Murphy, touche!!
And also to Mr. Kelley. Mr. Kelley is one of the most articulate and ethical reporters the OV News has EVER had. To take his reporting to task is wrong. He would not have survived the many years at the LA Times were he not.

James Hatch said...

To Daryll and Sondra,

You want a real story. Find out the following:

A) How much this actually cost the district.

B) Could they ever have settled and for what amount.

There's an ongoing story in the Star about a lady named Becky Romano that was fired. Her attorney attempted to settle the wrongful termination claim against Oxnard Unified over 16 times and for half the amount of ultimate settlement. The school's attorney fees were nearly eight times what the initial demand to settle.

To me, that would be an interesting story.

Sondra Murphy said...

James,
There is a time-consuming procedure for getting such information. Please be patient.

Anonymous said...

On B Bradigan and OVNews, what
a load of unsolicited gossip
and off topic. Cast the first
stone sound familiar? The OVNews
doesn't need to be implicated
in personal politics- it is an
award winning class act that does
more to print fairness and truth
while protecting the valley and
reporting balanced stories than
that blogger can ever hope to.
I grow tired of those who by
keeping cheap gossip alive
reveal their little lives. PL

Anonymous said...

I guess if the school is not allowed to teach kids that doing things like bulling is a horrible thing to do by reading a book and the parents don't teach there kids about bulling I assume everyone is in denial and the kids are the ones that suffer. Then when the kids grow up and something happens to them maybe the parents will regret that they were not allowed to learn about it in school and possibly how to handle other kids being mean.

I was made fun of when I was a kid for coughing a lot. I was born with a rare lung disease. I know now that those kids were just dumb but back then it hurt. I feel that if parents want to ignore things like that they shouldnt have had kids to begin with. Like if we ignore it it will never happen!

Anonymous said...

The book should have read in the school.. I know one of the gilrs is a bully herself with behavoral and learning problems. Why do think the school records were going to be brought into this suit. To bad it didnt get that far. Might be why they actually dropped the case. Jeff Luttrell even showed up at a board meeting for the christian school ( his child doesnt even go to) and made a real scene there. WOW what a great christian...
They complained about this book, but they let tme watch movies that a "good christian" shouldnt be watching. This was about MONEY and how much they thought they could get, and not about what was best for the girls. Hopefully these parents will decide they are not welcome in the community.

Anonymous said...

I have just returned to town after leaving the day of opening statements. When I read Cathy Elliott Jones blog where she would have preferred to see it all the way through I thought I would die laughing. I watched what I believe to be the most lopsided opening statements imaginable. I was sure that Mrs. Jones was going to fall all over those ridiculous huge signs about the book (she couldn't even get Luttrell to help her with them) that really had nothing to do with the case by this time. The book was already thrown out. As to your jurors and selection I remember 1 lady that was really offended by the language. The things I recalled was the one juror that said he would never sue the school district and you left him on the jury. I also remember the young Christian youth minister that had to be dismissed because he couldn't stand you. I watched the judge have to tell you to stop badgering the juror. When you questioned Mrs. McMichaels with open ended statements you let her talk on and on. You did work that should have belonged to her attorney. My father and uncle were both attorneys in this county for many years and I have spent much time in court rooms. This was the worst piece of legal work I have ever witnessed. I felt bad for you Mrs. Jones. Certainly not that you lost but that you would take it this far. You can commend the Luttrells and Craven all the way to the bank dear. Thanks for beating our school district out of $350,000 Jeff. A job well done.
Congratulations Mrs. McMichael
The Ojai Unified School District and a brilliant job by Jon Light. Thank you Jim Loughman

Anonymous said...

so get this. The good old Dr. is now bein sues himself for malpractice.
I guess what goes around comes around.

Anonymous said...

This was the worlds stupidest trial ever. This woman was tortured and she pours her heart out into this book; an accurate description of the pain she went through, and some imbeciles dwell on the occasional swear or two, or a sexual situation.

How? How do you even start to do such a moronic action?! This woman went through so much pain already, and now some people decide to put her in a trial!

Whatever happened to free speech?! It says in the Bill of Rights, right in the very first ammendment that we have the right to free speech, religion, press, and assembly.

I am disgusted by this trial

-An honest, and compassionate, person