The punch of a bully has cost a New Jersey school $4.2 million in damages after a lawsuit filed by the family of Sawyer Rosenstein. He was left paralyzed after a known bully punched him in the abdomen.
According to the suit, Rosenstein had made repeated reports to school officials complaining about the abuse he was suffering at the hands of an unnamed peer.
"I would like to let you know that the bullying has increased," he wrote to the guidance counselor at Eric Smith Middle School.
"I would like to figure out some coping mechanisms to deal with these situations, and I would just like to put this on file so if something happens again, we can so that there was past bullying situations," the email continued.
This bully had attacked other students, punching one in the face while on a school bus, the suit revealed. Yet the school did nothing to prevent the bullying or punish the bully. Rosenstein was punched in the abdomen while at school on May 16, 2006. His father, Joel, told The Record of Woodland Park that Sawyer had come home complaining of back pain but felt fine.
Unfortunately that didn't last, and two days later Sawyer let out a scream at home.
"We picked him up and called an ambulance. He hasn't walked since," Joel said.
Tests revealed that Sawyer had suffered a clot in a major artery that provides blood for the spine as a result of the punch. He is paralyzed from the waist down. Now a freshman at Syracuse University, Sawyer has said that he "can't go back and change the past."
"What I can do now is look at what I have now and what is ahead of me. And I have my whole life ahead of me," he told The Record. This positive attitude has kept Sawyer going and provided a platform for him to be a role model for others.
In 2011, New Jersey enacted an anti-bullying law designed to help curb the growing problem.