It might be cute to hear a three-year old sing, “As snug as a bug in a rug,” but there’s nothing cute at all about having your home infested with bed bugs. But that’s what “Rudy” and his family dealt with in July, 2019 when their home became bed bug central.
“A pest control service got the infestation under control, but it was an expensive nightmare,” he explained during our telephone conversation. He had been on the phone to a number of attorneys wanting someone to file suit against the school district for the way a teacher and administrators dealt with his nine year old son who showed up at school with a bed bug on his jacket, the morning of October 8th.
After an absence of about 40 years, bed bugs have made a stunning worldwide return, and while it is rare for schools to become infested, still, in many parts of the country, finding even one bed bug on a student is considered as a public health emergency. All schools that receive federal funds must have extensive “What to do if” contingency plans in effect.
Taken to the Nurse’s Office
“From what my son, David, explained, as he walked into his classroom by the teacher, she spotted a bed bug on his jacket and immediately walked with him to the nurse’s office. While there, his jacket was removed, they lifted his shirt, examined his back and legs for evidence of bites or bugs themselves, but found none. Then, he was brought back to his classroom.”
You are probably thinking, “Thank goodness! That’s what they should have done! Why is the boy’s father upset?” That’s what I thought as well, and asked to speak with his son who also confirmed that everyone was nice to him.
“They all knew that we had bedbugs because I told my friends about the problem at home. It was really exciting!” this very polite, well-spoken nine year-old happily explained.
I Am going to Post the School’s Illegal Behavior!
However dad was furious, threatening to post what he felt was illegal conduct by all the people involved with David and the bed bug. But why? As the boy wasn’t harmed in the least, what had they done that was so wrong?
“They legally had the obligation of calling me first for permission to remove David’s coat or examine him! That’s what! I want a lawyer to sue them, and I’m going to post this on Facebook and other social media sites, listing all the names of those people.”
Well, not so fast, Rudy. In researching his school’s policy for dealing with bedbug issues, while it is required for a parent to be notified at some time, procedure calls for just what happened. They did the right thing. It is a public health concern where time is critical – so these little vampires don’t go looking for a human blood bank.
I asked Rudy if he thought about the consequences of posting what would amount to defamatory statements about these people. “What do you mean, consequences? Like getting them fired?”
“No,” I replied, “like getting yourself sued, creating a problem for your son down the road, and as such a suit would most likely be thrown out of court, still your names would remain out there forever, seen as troublemakers. Want to guess what I am thinking of?”
He had no idea.
Think Over Carefully Before Posting Anything Negative Online
I ran this all too common fact situation by two of our consultants for their evaluations:
— San Francisco-based attorney Richard Lutkus who is among a handful of lawyers in the country whose law practice concentrates on “cyber-security preparedness, data breach response, and data privacy.”
– California licensed private investigators, Riley and Jane Parker, who are the founders of Pre-Employment Profiles, LLC, a service for employers who need to vet would-be applicants.
“By posting false remarks online you are open to being sued for defamation, so assume that you cannot delete them ever. It is out there. Understand that whatever your write can be developed into a profile of who you are,” Lutkus points out, adding, “Just ask yourself–better yet, ask a friend–before posting something when you are angry–especially if it could be false–‘How could this come back and harm me?”
Both Riley and Jane Parker want Rudy to stop and ask, “By posting defamatory comments, or, if you find a lawyer who sues the school, just count on a background search that will have you and your son labeled as trouble. This will impact an employer’s decision to hire you, and could adversely affect your son’s future.”
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.