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Eldred bullying case to be retried

ELDRED, NY — In December 2017, a Sullivan County jury decided this year that Anthony Motta Jr. and his parents will be paid $1 million by Eldred School District. The jury found that the district did not take sufficient actions to protect Motta Jr. from several bullies in the school. The case prompted the reassignment of principal Scott Krebs, and led to the creation of a bullying task force at the school.

On May 9, A New York State Appellate Court ruled that the verdict must be thrown out and the case must be retried.  The jury had been given an instruction sheet with eight questions.   “[Q]uestion No. 3 asked the jury to determine whether plaintiffs were negligent. If the jury answered “[y]es,” it was instructed to continue to question No. 4, which asked the jury to determine whether plaintiffs’ negligence was “a substantial factor in causing their own injuries.” The instructions for question No. 4, in turn, provided that if the jury answered “[y]es,” to proceed to question No. 5, and if it answered “[n]o,” to proceed to question No. 6,” the court wrote.

It continued, “The jury’s consideration of question No. 5 was inconsistent with its answer to question No. 4 and should have been brought to the jury’s attention with a curative charge, followed by a return to deliberations to resolve the inconsistency. However, because the jury had already been discharged, this was not possible and Supreme Court’s consultation with the jury foreperson alone, although done in open court, could not take the place of full jury reconsideration.”

The court therefore dismissed the verdict and ordered a new trial, and the school district plans to ask for a change of venue.


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