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Law Offices of Jonathan M. Cooper

Why We're Taking a School Assault Case to NY State's Highest Court


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10/10/2011
Jonathan Cooper
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There may be times that you disagree completely with someone else's perspective, but that doesn't mean you can't respect their willingness to draw a line in the sand and stand up for their belief in the correctness of their position.

And that is precisely what has happened in this school assault case, in which my office represents a teenage boy who was beaten viciously by one of his schoolmates, to the point that his jaw needed to be wired shut and surgically repaired in two places. To be clear, the issue in this case is this:

When a school receives notice that one of its students poses a danger to another student that is in its custody, does the school have a duty to affirmatively notify the parents of the danger?

After winning in the trial court, a majority of the appeals court reversed, and dismissed the case because the majority did not want to impose an affirmative duty upon a school to inform a parent about a threat to a child, particularly where that threat later came to fruition off of school grounds.

The City of New York has argued that a finding for the plaintiff in this case might be perceived as an unwarranted expansion of a school's duties to its parent body. I feel rather strongly that this position is wrong on both legal and moral grounds, though.

In my view, the school can - and should - be held liable for negligent supervision, because it failed to alert my client to the known and imminent threat posed to her son by another student, and thereby deprived my client of the opportunity to use her own judgment on whether - or how - to protect her son from that danger.

And that's why we're appealing to the Court of Appeals.

But, at the same time, I respect the City's refusal to make any settlement offer.

 




Category: School Negligence / Personal Injury


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