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Va. justices order new trial in school fight suit

Friday - 4/20/2012, 2:25pm  ET

RICHMOND, Va. - The Virginia Supreme Court has ordered a new trial in a former Gloucester High School student's lawsuit against an assistant principal.

A jury in 2010 found assistant principal Travis Burns liable for injuries suffered by student Gregory Gagnon in a lunchroom fight. Another student had told Burns that the fight would happen, but the administrator did nothing to prevent it. The jury entered judgments of $1.25 million against Burns, $3.25 million against the attacker and $500,000 against the assailant's sister, who encouraged the fight.

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Burns case was improperly tried under a "simple negligence" standard. The justices ordered a new trial under the tougher standard of gross negligence.

Medical experts testified at the nine-day trial that Gagnon suffered permanent brain injuries in the fight.

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