Student forced to urinate in bucket wins $1.3m lawsuit
A California school district has been ordered to pay $1.25m (£994,000) to a former student who urinated in a bucket after she was denied a toilet break.
A Superior Court jury sided with the former student, who sued the district and a teacher over the 2012 incident.
The district denied the student's initial $25,000 claim, in which she said the incident led to lewd texts, depression and a suicide attempt.
The school said the teacher had never intended to embarrass the student.
Rather, the teacher attempted to find a solution to what she mistakenly thought was a strict, no-toilet break policy, lawyers for the San Diego Unified School District said.
In a "lapse of judgment, she thought that was a good idea", said Katheryn Martin, the school district's attorney.
The Patrick Henry High School student, now 19, said her teacher Gonja Wolf had rejected her request to go to the bathroom, according to the lawsuit.
Her request came during a 25-minute advisory class, in which Ms Wolf believed bathroom breaks were not permitted, lawyers said.
Ms Wolf instead directed the student to use a supply room closet next to the classroom, where she could urinate in a bucket and empty it in a sink.
"Something like this never should have happened to a 14-year-old girl just entering high school," said Brian Watkins, the student's attorney.
"She took the stand and told a really embarrassing story. She told the jury how this has affected her life and how she is still working through issues."
The student was forced to transfer schools twice over bullying and still goes to therapy to work through the post-traumatic stress over the incident, Mr Watkins said.
As well as $1.25m, the jury awarded the girl $41,000 to cover medical expenses.
The teacher was put on paid administrative leave and did not return to campus after the incident.
The school also apologised to the student and her mother and clarified to teachers that bathroom trips were permitted, attorneys said.
The school district said it was "disappointed" by the verdict.
"We, of course, are disappointed and will be considering in the next few weeks whether or not to appeal," said district spokeswoman Shari Winet.