One hundred thousand rubles as moral compensation for the death of a teenager in a school in Nizhny Novgorod

Событие | Пресс центр

16 July 2014

Today, on 16 July 2014, the Sergachsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod region awarded 100 000 RUB to Anna Gyurdzhinyan, the mother of a teenager who died as a result of a fight at school, in compensation for moral damages inflicted by the staff of Sergachsky school No.3 who neglected their duty of ensuring the safe environment for the pupils. Lawyers working with the INGO «Committee Against Torture» who represent the victim’s interests, intend to appeal against the decision, believing the sum to be meager and disproportionate to the severity of the moral suffering.

(Anna Gyurdzhinyan)

On 1 October 2013 Anna Gyurdzhinyan applied to Niznhy Novgorod regional branch of the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance and told the human rights defenders her sad story.  On 20 February 2012 she received a call from local school No.3 where her son Sako Solakian studied in 9th grade. She was told that her son was urgently taken to the Sergachsky Central District Hospital intensive care unit. Unfortunately, despite the emergency surgery, the teenager died the next day.  Later the circumstances of the accident were revealed: it turned out that her son lost his consciousness as a result of a fight with the 11th grade pupil.

Believing that the school stuff failed to prevent the tragedy, Anna Gyurdzhinyan decided on seeking help of human rights defenders. The Committee Against Torture lawyers conducted a public investigation which established the violation of the applicant’s rights by the state in the part of ensuring health and safety of her son who was studying in Sergachsky school No.3.

Aleksey Matasov, a lawyer with the Nizhny Novgorod branch of INGO «Committee Against Torture», who represents the interests of Anna Gyurdzhinyan, comments on the situation: «For our practice this case is not quite typical and, at first glance, not so obvious as, for example, battery of the detained person in the police department. A police officer represents the state directly, he shares its authority. As to school No.3 of Sergach city the question is whether it can be considered a state agent.

Firstly, the administration of Sergachsky District is its founder. In Russia municipal authorities are formally separated from the state authorities, but in their essence they perform state functions being integral part of the state bodies and sharing the state authority.  Secondly, a municipal school is intended to perform the educational function of the state. Based on this as well as on the fact that the state and its representatives must do their best to prevent violation of human rights in the domain, we filed a claim on behalf of the deceased teenager’s mother against the school for compensation for moral damage.

Today the District Court agreed with our arguments that the educational institution’s staff neglected their duties and failed to prevent such a tragedy, but awarded the tiniest compensation for compensation for moral suffering of the mother – one hundred thousand rubles. Of course, we will appeal against this decision demanding the increase of the compensation in the Supreme Court».