NJ Bully’s Punch Paralyzes Student, Costs School $4.2 Million in Settlement

Bullying is an eternally hot topic- and the subject of a new documentary, titled simply Bully– but a NJ bully’s punch cost the district in which the incident occurred a whopping $4.2 million after the student injured was paralyzed.

It has almost gotten to the point where people instinctively assume a lawsuit with a large payout is a cash grab, but the circumstances that began with the NJ bully’s punch in the Ramsey school district are truly heartbreaking. It began in 2006, when student Sawyer Rosenstein, then 12, was targeted by a “known bully” in the district.

Rosenstein even sent a very even-tempered and reasonable email to the school district, impressively articulate for his age. He wrote administrators informing them of the problem, asking for advice in how to handle it himself, maintaining calm. The email to Eric Smith Middle School officials read:

“I would like to let you know that the bullying has increased. I would like to figure out some coping mechanisms to deal with these situations, and I would just like to put this on file so if something happens again, we can show that there was past bullying situations.”

At the time, Rosenstein was in seventh grade. Three months later, the bully attacked Sawyer on school grounds, punching him in the abdomen. When Rosenstein got home, he complained of back pain but otherwise seemed okay. However, two days later, he was in his bedroom when his parents heard him scream in pain. His father says that from that point on, he hasn’t been able to walk.

Another individual claim against the boy who punched Rosenstein has been settled, and Rosenstein has since graduated and is in college. The settlement in the case did not require the school district to admit any wrongdoing in the case of the NJ bully’s punch.