The parents of a teenager killed in a tragic accident last October are suing both the Union-Tribune and Sweetwater Union High School District for invasion of privacy. According to Courthouse News, following the teenager’s death, Jose Brosz, Principal of of Otay Ranch High School, allegedly made a statement to a reporter for the paper that the youth was ” ‘working through difficult personal issues’ and that district officials had been helping him and his family.” A story containing that quote appeared on the publisher’s web site, SignOnSanDiego.com, and later in the print newspaper.
In the court filing, the parents allege that after the story first appeared, they contacted the reporter and asked him to retract the statement but he refused. Ivica and Maria Hudika allege that the school district violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the California Constitution, the California Education Code, the California Code of Regulations, and the district’s own board policies by revealing private information about Eric and his family based on Eric’s school records.
In addition to privacy invasion, the couple also seek damages for emotional distress and negligence. Following the appearance of the story, they claim that were subjected to unnecessary scrutiny concerning their son’s and family’s personal issues which had no connection to their son’s death and which caused them great distress. They allege that the Union-Tribune’s publication of the statement had no logical connection to the tragic accident and was an invasion of privacy. The couple is seeking punitive damages.