Yearbook photo, caption of special needs student results in lawsuit

By Chris Dickerson | Nov 16, 2016

MOUNDSVILLE – A Marshall County man has sued county school board, saying a photograph and accompanying caption of him published in a high school yearbook’s senior superlatives section has caused emotional distress.

Brady McCort was a special needs student at Cameron High School before graduating in 2014, according to the complaint filed Nov. 2 in Marshall Circuit Court. He says that year’s edition of the Cameron High School Echoes yearbook was distributed starting in November of that year.

In a section of the yearbook called “Senior Hall of Fame,” McCort says his photo was published above the caption “Most Likely to Disappear.” Some of the other class-voted honorees in the section included “Future Millionaires,” “Most Athletic,” “Best All-Around,” “Best Dressed” and “Cutest Couple.”

According to the complaint, the other winners were advised of the category of which they won. McCort says he wasn’t notified, and he says his photo was taken on a different day than the others honored.

He also says no previous edition of the Echoes yearbook had a “Most Likely to Disappear” winner.

McCort says yearbook advisor Dana Simons was negligent in permitting the yearbook to be published with his photograph and the caption with it. He says the school system should have known publication of such a photo and caption would cause damages.

“The conduct of the defendant was atrocious, intolerable and so extreme and outrageous as to exceed the bounds of decency and is intolerable in a civil society,” the complaint states. “… the emotional distress suffered by the plaintiff was so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it.”

McCort accuses the school board of libel for the false and/or misleading statement, of negligent hiring of Simons and failing to properly monitor and supervise her and of intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. He also says it’s a continuing tort because the injury is repeated each time.

He says he endured mental anguish, emotional distress, embarrassment, extreme emotional upset, anxiety, depression and loss of sleep. He says the incident caused him to be involuntarily committed to Belmont Community Center Crisis Hospital and Hillcrest Behavioral Health Center on multiple occasions. He seeks compensatory damages for medical care and treatment past and future.

“Plaintiff’s mental illness tolled his ability to reasonably take steps to enforce his legal rights during his intervals and/or periods of mental illness,” the complaint states, adding that McCort has suffered a diminution in his ability to care for himself and enjoy a normal life.

McCort seeks compensatory damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, court costs and other relief. He is represented by Gerasimos “Jerry” Sklavounakis of the Sklavounakis Law Office in Wheeling. The case has been assigned to Marshall Circuit Judge Jeffrey Cramer.

Marshall Circuit Court case number: 16-C-208

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