On May 23, 2023, MML trial team lawyers R. Armen McOmber, Esq., Matthew A. Luber, Esq., Peter D. Valenzano, Esq. and Austin B. Tobin, Esq. secured a $500,000 Jury Verdict in Middlesex County Superior Court. You can read more about the victory here.
The lawsuit was originally filed over six years ago on behalf of Plaintiffs, Hugh McCabe and his mother, Suzanne McCabe. Hugh, a former student in Monroe Township Public Schools, was subjected to homophobic slurs and anti-gay animus by another Monroe Township High School Student, which included a November 25, 2015 assault in the boy’s locker room that caused Hugh significant physical injuries. Hugh was also bullied based on the perception that he is gay and due to his membership in the school’s Gay Straight Alliance.
Following a two-week trial, the jury concluded that Hugh was subjected to years of discrimination on account of his perceived sexual orientation in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”). The jury further concluded that the school was aware of the harassment, and that it was negligent by failing to prevent, correct, or remediate the discrimination
The jury awarded Hugh $400,000 in emotional distress damages and an additional $100,000 in damages for his physical injuries stemming from the assault.
On November 30, 2023, the same Court awarded counsel fees of $804,018.42, which included a 33% enhancement amounting to $199,493.29. The total judgment against the Defendant School District amounts to $1,397,487. The fee award recognizes the challenge and risk of bringing discrimination claims. The Honorable Alberto Rivas, J.S.C. noted MML’s commitment to the NJLAD’s mission: “Theory of liability in this case differed from a typical NJLAD employment matter, focusing on an issue related to perceived sexual orientation, thereby advancing and vindicating one of the NJLAD’s core objectives.” Judge Rivas noted that the case was litigated for seven years, involved significant motion and deposition practice, and that district “maintained an inflexible settlement posture throughout in proceedings that culminated in a multi-week jury trial.”
The fee award can be viewed here.