California student paper sued for disclosing whereabouts of former classmate

A movie producer filed suit against one of Los Angeles’ most exclusive private schools last month, alleging the school was negligent because the student newspaper published the name and location of the producer’s son, a former student of the school.

The accusation stems from a Nov. 10, 2004, article in the Harvard-Westlake Chronicle, “Students’ online comments lead to FBI investigation,” which reported that five Harvard-Westlake students had admitted to posting threats against the student on a Web site in September and October 2004.

Lee Caplin, the executive producer of “Ali,” and his wife, Gita, filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court on April 25, accusing the school of, among other things, negligence and invasion of privacy, for allowing the student newspaper to publish their son’s name and the name of the school he now attends.

Tom Hudnut, headmaster at Harvard-Westlake, said he stands behind the newspaper and the adviser, Kathleen Neumeyer, because the information published in the article was lawfully obtained. An interview of Caplin and his son that appeared in a Monterey, Calif., newspaper before the Chronicle story was published included the 15-year-old’s name and the name of the school he transferred to, Hudnut said.

Hudnut said the Caplins also claimed the school was negligent for allowing the nine students to use school computers to post their messages on the student’s Web site. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the students confessed to posting the comments but the district attorney did not press charges.