Kentucky judges take up question of whether teachers can be negligent in bullying-suicide case

Can schools and teachers be held responsible if a bullied student commits suicide?

The Kentucky Supreme Court took up the question on Wednesday after the family of 13-year-old Stephen Patton sued teachers and school administrators. Defense attorneys disputed whether Stephen was even bullied and said they hadn't seen any other lawsuits where a family was able to hold school officials negligent.

A lawyer for Stephen's family says the 6-foot-3, 196-pound boy towered over classmates, but his imposing presence didn't protect the shy kid with a stutter from bullies. Attorney Vanessa Cantley says the eighth-grader at Allen Central Middle School shot himself to death in November 2007 after he was constantly bullied.

Attorneys for school officials countered that Stephen never complained to anyone and they said his suicide was a mystery.