Yearbook escapes student's lawsuit


Court throws out case of photo misidentification





\nNEW JERSEY -- The yearbook staff at Richard Stockton College\nis relieved but cautious following the dismissal of a lawsuit\nfiled by a student seeking almost $10,000 from the college due\nto a mistake in the yearbook.

Riahi Elyakoubi sued the college for $9,985 after his name\nwas erroneously printed beneath the photo of a female student\nin the 1997-98 yearbook. In his complaint, Elyakoubi said he was\n"completely saddened and psychologically disturbed"\nby the incorrect identification, which caused him to take a semester's\nleave of absence from the college.

Yearbook adviser Rance Catlin said the judge made the right\ndecision.

"I felt it was obvious justice had been done," he\nsaid. "We were in the right in the sense that it was a simple\nmistake that had occurred, and it certainly didn't justify any\nkind of lawsuit."

Catlin said he was not sure how Elyakoubi's name came to be\nprinted beneath the photo of Irenka Sabrina Webb, but believes\nthe photography studio that took the senior portraits may have\naccidentally sent two photos of Webb to the yearbook staff-one\nthat correctly identified Webb as herself and one that mistakenly\nidentified Webb as Elyakoubi.

Two photos of Webb appeared in the yearbook, one of which included\nthe correct name.

Catlin said the yearbook staff did not have any photos left\nover when it sent the yearbook to the publishing company, which\nled him to believe that the staff never received Elyakoubi's portrait.\n

Catlin said the college apologized to Elyakoubi and offered\nto send adhesive copies of his portrait to students who had bought\nyearbooks with a notice explaining where the portrait should be\nplaced in the book. Elyakoubi did not find this solution acceptable.\nInstead, he wanted the college to reprint the yearbook and send\nit out again. Catlin said this solution would have been too expensive.

According to Catlin, the college considered settling with\nElyakoubi but decided against it because it may have opened the\nschool up to more lawsuits in the future.

The yearbook staff, however, is doing its best to ensure that\nsuch a mistake never happens again.

A student employee will take a Polaroid snapshot of all students\nwho pose for senior portraits at the same time that the professional\nphotographer takes their pictures. Students will be required to\nsign the backs of their Polaroids and attach them to a senior\nbiography sheet.

Before the yearbooks are sent to the publisher, the staff will\ncompare each of the Polaroids to the 1,100 senior portraits in\nthe yearbook to certify that the student in each photo is correctly\nidentified.

"I've been advised to take some precautions from now on,\nso I'm going to do that," Catlin said, adding that although\nthe procedure will take a considerable amount of time, it will\n"not [take] as much time as going to court."\n

[This article was edited on Oct. 4, 2007.]


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