What happened after the student died….

We don’t like to come across cases that are filed by “The Estate of…” particularly when the estate belongs to a 13-year old boy.  But such is the case we report today.  The boy’s parents allege that the boy was pushed out of a school bus, or that he fell out of the bus through the rear exit door while the bus was going 65 MPH over a poor surface.   They sued the district alleging negligence in the operation of the motor vehicle.  We reported a preliminary ruling in that case on April 18, 2019, when the court dismissed most of the legal theories, but allowed the case to proceed based on allegations of excessive speed.  That case is still pending.  There is also a case pending against parties involved in the design, manufacture and sale of the school bus.

But today we report on a separate legal action that deals with what happened after the boy’s death. The boy’s parents, acting as representatives of his estate, allege a conspiracy to intentionally and falsely portray the boy’s death as a suicide.  There are multiple defendants in this case including the school district, the superintendent and various county and law enforcement personnel.  The defendants vehemently deny any wrongdoing in connection with the investigation of the incident or the conclusions they reached. 

The court has now dismissed all of the claims in this lawsuit. The court did not sort out the factual disputes between the parties, but relied instead on the legal concept of “standing.”  The court held that the parents lacked the “standing” to pursue claims about what allegedly happened after their son’s death.   A suit over how the boy died and who was at fault is one thing, but a suit over actions taken after the death is another.  The court held that the Estate lacked the legal “standing” to pursue any such claims.  Therefore the court lacked jurisdiction. Case dismissed.

Lawyers in our firm’s San Antonio and Rio Grande Valley offices filed the Motion to Dismiss and persuaded the court that dismissal was the proper outcome.  Kudos to Katie Payne and Leandra  Ortiz for excellent lawyering in a difficult case.  The case is Estate of Gabriel Miranda, Jr. v. Harlingen CISD, decided by the federal district court in the Southern District of Texas on February 18, 2020. 


Tomorrow: big pay cut for the A.D.