A school principal being sued for circulating a meme showing the breast of a former student formally asked in court Tuesday for the suit to be dismissed.
Her lawsuit against Layfield, the school, district and Assistant Principal Matthew Jones charges they created an invasion of privacy and conspiracy to invade privacy as well as causing intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Her suit says a photo of her exposed breast – which resulted from a fight with another student – was circulated among school staff.
The photo was doctored to cover Harmon’s face with singer Janet Jackson’s image.
That move was a reference to Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction that left her breast exposed during the 2004 National Football League Super Bowl halftime show.
In addition to asking the Superior Court of New Castle County to dismiss the suit, Layfield asked that costs and legal fees be assessed against Harmon.
Layfield and The Neuberger Firm said that unless the surveillance video is stopped and viewed in a frame-to-frame analysis, the plaintiff’s anatomy cannot be seen and was never seen by anyone that day.
They argue that kind of video analysis was never done for anyone who viewed the footage in the interests of school discipline or safety.
Layfield also said Harmon started the fight, which is the cause of any distress she alleges.
“He reiterates that plaintiff initiated a dangerous fight and in the course of continuing the fight directly and proximately caused her anatomy to be exposed briefly which was the cause of any alleged injuries to her,” his lawyer said in a statement. “The cause of her injuries was not the viewing of the surveillance video by staff with a need to know of the fight to preserve the safety of students entrusted to the care of the school.”
Layfield also claimed Tuesday that by initiating the fight in front of a school security camera, Harmon assumed the risk that her breast would become exposed and be recorded by the camera.
Efforts were unsuccessful Wednesday to reach Harmon’s lawyer, Emeka Igwe from the Igwe Firm in Philadelphia, for comment.
Both Layfield and Jones have been on unpaid administrative leave since May.
After three months of the suspensions, few details were issued publicly. Lawyer Thomas Neuberger issued a statement in August that revealed some details.
It said Layfield showed the video to several administrators, teachers and police officers as part of a routine review.
Neuberger maintained that Layfield’s suspension was politically motivated and the statement asked for circulating rumors to stop and for Layfield’s name to be cleared.
Layfield also claimed Tuesday that by initiating said fight in front of a school security camera, Harmon assumed the risk that her breast would become exposed and be recorded by the camera.
She created the situation in which the video would be seen by school employees charged with protecting the health and safety of the other students in the hallway at the time of the incident, he said.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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