By Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun
6:54 PM EST, January 5, 2012
The family of a special needs student who lost a $1.3 million lawsuit against the Baltimore city school system last month is seeking a new trial, saying the jury wasn't impartial and violated court instructions.
Donna King, the attorney for Edmund and Shawna Sullivan, filed the motion Tuesday on behalf of the family who took the system to court after they say the complaints about the chronic bullying of their son — who suffers from a traumatic brain injury — and daughter were ignored by school administrators at Hazelwood and Glenmount elementary schools.
The filing cites statements made by two jurors to The Baltimore Sun. One told the newspaper that the panel heavily considered the fact that their verdict could set a precedent across the nation for families taking school systems to court. Another juror told The Sun he believed the lawsuit would have been a "blow to the system" financially and divert money away from other students.
Both jurors said there was a lack of documentation and evidence and too many inconsistencies in witness testimony to suggest that the Sullivans' children suffered the alleged damages.
The motion also says that the jurors' statements showed that they did not follow court instructions to consider the two principals separately. They were both facing counts of negligence and gross negligence.
A juror told The Sun that the panel believed the testimony of one principal, Charlotte Williams, was truthful and consistent, while the other principal, Sidney Twiggs, could have done more to prevent the bullying. If Williams had not testified, the juror said, the outcome could have been different.
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