Meredith Land, NBCDFW.com
A North Texas attorney says parents are liable for their child's "willful and malicious conduct" -- including bullying.
A North Texas lawyer is advising clients whose children have been bullied to go to the source and sue the bully's parents.
Some parents, including those of Jon Carmichael, a 13-year-old Joshua student who killed himself after his parents say he was relentlessly bullied, have sued the school district.
Other parents are pushing for tougher laws.
But Kern Lewis, a Grapevine attorney, suggests what he calls a simpler route.
"What I've suggested to people is, send that parent of the bully a letter by certified mail and regular mail, saying, 'Your child is doing this, it is continuing. Would you please get involved?'" he said.
Lewis points to the Texas Family Code. Section 41.001, which states that parents are liable for "the willful and malicious conduct" of a child who is at least 10 years of age but younger than 18.
It could be a slam dunk if the bully's parents are first notified.
"The key is to put that other parent on notice and say, 'Look, your child is bullying my child, doing it repeatedly. Can you please get involved and stop this?'" Lewis said. "Then, if the parents don't do anything, they can be held responsible."
A lawsuit could be filed in small claims court, and no attorney would be needed. The victim's parents would pay no more than $50 for a filing fee.
Lewis said the tactic often solves the problem instantly.
"If you're going to have to hire an attorney to defend that lawsuit and you're going to be out thousands of dollars, you're going to get involved in your child's life," he said.