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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review

Family of Dead Youth Says It Will Sue School District

March 11, 2000

PALMDALE — The Palmdale School District has rejected a wrongful death claim filed by the family of Stephan Corson, a 13-year-old boy killed in a fistfight at a Palmdale middle school last fall. The school district's decision, made Tuesday in a closed-door meeting, clears the way for the Corson family to sue the district.

Melanie E. Lomax, the former president of the Los Angeles Police Commission who is representing the Corson family, said Friday that she plans to file a lawsuit next week.

"The school district is clearly at fault for what happened," she said. "There was negligent supervision in the classroom, inadequate intervention and Stephan was allowed to be hit after the fight was broken up. This wasn't an accidental death."

The school district, however, "feels it has no particular responsibility due to the facts of the case," said Martin Carpenter, the lawyer for the Palmdale School District. He would not elaborate.

Stephan was punched in the face and died Nov. 19 during a fight with another eighth-grade student outside of class at Juniper Intermediate School. Corson started the fight, witnesses told police.

Stephan's family has said that the other boy, a 14-year-old whose name is being withheld because of his age, hit Stephan after a teacher's aide had stepped between the two.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office ruled in February that Stephan's death was a homicide. Prosecutors are now reviewing the case to determine whether to press charges against the other boy.

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