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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Mother of Boy Killed in Fight Sues District for $10 Million

March 22, 2000

PALMDALE — The mother of Stephan Corson, the 13-year-old boy killed in a schoolyard fight in November, filed a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against the Palmdale school district and the principal of the middle school.

Mary Corson says in her suit that her son's death was "the direct result of the combined failure of the district and the school to provide adequate staff . . . and to properly supervise the conduct of its students."

The suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court paints a picture of a chaotic classroom scene in which students were throwing paper at each other before a fight escalated between Stephan and another eighth-grade boy.

A lawyer for the school district, which earlier this month rejected a $10-million claim from Mary Corson, said the fight wasn't the district's fault.

"The school district has no liability for the spontaneous act of two boys," said Martin Carpenter, the district's lawyer. "There was no evidence of a dangerous environment or any indication something like this was going to happen."

The district also denies the allegation in the lawsuit that school officials had discriminated against Stephan because he was black, Carpenter said.

Stephan was killed Nov. 19 after the other boy slugged him in the face outside of class at Juniper Intermediate School. Corson started the fight after a paper throwing incident, witnesses told Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigators.

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