The lawsuit names both the school and Instagram as defendants.
The family of a 13-year-old Florida girl who was falsely accused and arrested for threatening to attack her school has filed a lawsuit against the institute and Instagram’s parent company, Meta.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of Nia Whims by her mother, Lezlie-Ann Davis, and seeks “damages in excess of $30,000” from Renaissance Charter School in Pembroke Pines in Broward County, about 25 miles north of Miami.
The lawsuit also names Instagram as a defendant.
Attorneys for Whims and her family said they also plan to add the Pembroke Pines Police Department as a defendant.
The Sun-Sentinel notes that Pembroke Police officials have already admitted that one of Whims’ 12-year-old classmates had impersonated Whims on social media.
The 12-year-old, who was not identified by the Sun-Sentinel, posted threats on Instagram against herself, a teacher, and the school, all while pretending to be Whims.
The girl has since been charged with a crime.
Whims’s lawsuit claims malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and a violation of civil rights. It also asserts that Instagram is guilty of negligence.
Whims, says the Sun-Sentinel, had always denied sending the messages or posting any threats against her school and classmates. After her arrest, Whims described her time in a juvenile detention facility as “scary.”
“People will come up to me and say, ‘Nia, are you the person on the news?’” Whims said. “I just have to lie and say, ‘No.’”
Whims and her mother say that the threats were the end-result of a months-long campaign of bullying and harassment, purportedly orchestrated by a number of other students.
Davis told the Sun-Sentinel that the harassment was so intense she had actually withdrawn Whims from Renaissance Charter several days before the threats were posted to the fake Instagram account.
While police say the nature of the threat against the school, teachers, and other students forced them to take Whims into custody, Davis disagreed, observing that the arrest occurred at a time when Renaissance Charter was closed for the day.
“After 4pm, when the school is closed, where is the danger?” Davis asked. “Why was she arrested?”
Whims spent nearly two weeks in a juvenile detention center, where she says she was harassed by other girls. One inmate allegedly threatened to stab Whims over a small amount of chocolate.
Davis, for her part, says she feels guilty—guilty because she initially trusted the police when they came to her house, telling her they had evidence Whims had threatened classmates and teachers.
“To be honest, when the officers first told me it was her and we have evidence, I was so against her,” Davis said, “and I felt bad when it wasn’t her.”
Attorney Marwan Porter of the Porter Law Firm told Local10 that nobody from the school or police department has apologize to Whims or her family.
“They need to make sure they do their homework prior to putting our children in handcuffs and locking them up,” Porter said.