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Verdicts & Settlements

Judge Dismisses Multiple Defendants in Title IX Lawsuit Against Mid-Michigan School District

— May 10, 2024

A federal judge dismissed four individual defendants, while allowing the family of an alleged sexual assault victim to continue litigating claims against Mason Public Schools.

A federal judge has dismissed four defendants from a lawsuit alleging conspiracy, sexual assault, and Title IX violations at a mid-Michigan school district.

According to The Lansing State Journal, the court on Thursday dismissed four individual defendants from the lawsuit against Mason Public Schools: high school Principal Lance Delbridge, Assistant Principle Nicholas Toodzio, and the parents of a male student who was expelled for sexual misconduct but later permitted to return to class.

The complaint was filed on behalf of the parents of another student, who said that she had been sexually assaulted by the expelled male.

Brandon Wolfe, an attorney representing the girl’s parents, posited the federal court’s decision as a victory.

“I think it’s a big win for the Plaintiff all the way around, given the high bar to bring claims against the government,” Wolfe said in an email to the Lansing State Journal.

Wolfe said that, even though the alleged perpetrator’s parents had been dismissed from the claim, he intends to file another lawsuit against them in a state court.

Gavel resting on open book; image by verkeorg, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.
Gavel resting on open book; image by verkeorg, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.

Mason Public Schools had earlier argued that it should be removed as a defendant, saying that it took “all possible steps to ensure [the alleged victim] would not face further sexual harassment” and is therefore entitled to immunity.

WLNS-6 notes that the male student had been accused of putting a hand down a female student’s pants and penetrating her in “the middle of a classroom” at Mason Middle School.

The student was expelled following an investigation, but the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office declined to press charges.

The boy’s mother—Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum—has since decried the lawsuit as baseless.

“From the beginning, this lawsuit was frivolous, false and utterly irresponsible,” Byrum said in a statement. “The salacious allegations against my integrity in this suit were designed to embarrass my family and were a blatant attempt to shake me down because I am a public figure.”

Byrum said that, although she is happy to have been removed as a defendant, the litigation has taken a toll on her mental health and her family’s well-being.

“I have stayed silent on this matter, in an effort to allow the legal system to play out, knowing that this case was so detached from reality that it would never stand up to judicial scrutiny,” she said.

The Lansing State Journal reports that—even as Byrum, her husband, and two education officials have been dismissed from the lawsuit—the court’s ruling will permit the plaintiffs to continue litigation against Mason Public Schools.


Court dismisses case involving Ingham County officials

Judge dismisses four defendants but allows Title IX lawsuit against Mason schools to proceed

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