Friday, March 16, 2018

Suit Over News Photo of Arabic-Speaking School Child May Continue

In Mahdy v. Mason City School District, (SD OH, March 15, 2018), an Ohio federal district court refused to dismiss equal protection and false-light claims growing out of the use of a photo of a 5-year old (identified as J.M.) to illustrate a newspaper story criticizing a rise in the number of Arabic-speaking students in the Mason City, Ohio schools.  The student was the daughter of an Egyptian-born urologist at the University of Cincinnati. The article reported that most of the Arabic-speaking students were from Saudi Arabia on temporary visas to be treated at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and that their enrollment placed strains on the school system's budget. The court describes plaintiff's claims:
The Complaint alleges that neither Dr. Mahdy nor his wife gave permission to anyone to photograph J.M., to disclose her identity to the public, or to falsely associate her with the Children’s Hospital Destination Excellence Program.... The Complaint alleges that J.M. had to be removed from MECC due to the "wave of Islamophobia that is currently sweeping across our country," and because her family was "so distressed over the prejudice and discriminatory treatment expressed against Arabic-speaking students."