Joseph and Jane Clementi claim the school failed to protect him from acts by fellow students that led to his death
The parents of Tyler Clementi, who killed himself in September after fellow Rutgers students allegedly broadcast webcam footage of him being intimate with another man, have filed court documents preserving their right to sue the university over his death – but have not yet decided whether to sue.
“Under New Jersey law, a public entity such as Rutgers University must be provided with these notices within a specified limited time after the occurrence in question in order to preserve a person’s right to sue the public entity in the future,” said a statement issued by Paul Mainardi, an attorney for Joseph and Jane Clementi, Tyler’s parents.
“Contrary to early press reports, the Clementis have not filed suit against Rutgers University,” the statement says, “and a decision as to whether to file suit against Rutgers University in the future has not been made.”
The notice, which was filed Dec. 17, alleges Rutgers failed to protect the freshman, 18, from unlawful or otherwise improper acts” by his classmates, according to the Home News Tribune of East Brunswick, N.J. Those acts, allegedly perpetrated by Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, both 18, led Clementi to jump off the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, his parents contend.
Listed as damages are Clementi’s pain and suffering and his parents’ loss of companionship and support and their financial costs. The notice does not put a dollar figure on the damages.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Rutgers, E.J. Miranda, said the school is sympathetic to the family’s pain but not responsible for Clementi’s death.
“We at the university share the family’s sense of loss of their son, who was a member of our community,” Miranda said. “We also recognize that a grieving family may question whether someone or some institution could somehow have responsibility for their son’s death. While the university understands this reaction, the university is not responsible for Tyler Clementi’s suicide.”
Clementi’s death made headlines nationwide and shone a spotlight on the issue of bullying against gay teens.