Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Schools and a negligent supervision claim.

Practice point:  The Appellate Division affirmed defendant's motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint in this action where the infant plaintiff alleges that, when he was a seven-year-old second-grade student at a New York City public school, he suffered serious physical injuries as the result of an altercation in which a classmate caused him to strike his head against a bookcase.

The Appellate Division found no evidence that the school had notice that the plaintiff's classmate had a proclivity to engage in physically aggressive conduct. The evidence that plaintiff had complained to his teacher and others that the classmate was "picking on him" and calling him names, and that his mother had called the principal's office and reported that some unidentified boys were "picking on her son," when viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, shows only that the school knew that the classmate had been picking on plaintiff verbally. Knowledge of such taunting, however, did not give the school sufficiently specific knowledge or notice of prior conduct similar to the unanticipated injury-causing act by the classmate.

Student note:  While schools have a duty to adequately supervise their students, and will be held liable for foreseeable injuries proximately related to the absence of adequate supervision, unanticipated third-party acts causing injury upon a fellow student will generally not give rise to a school's liability in negligence absent actual or constructive notice of prior similar conduct.

Case:  Emmanuel B. v. City of New York, NY Slip Op 06750 (1st Dept. 2015)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  Dismissal of an appeal when the plaintiff is not an aggrieved party.