On June 5, middle school student Kardin Ulysse was blinded in one eye when several other students pinned him down and beat him while yelling anti-gay slurs. As Kardin's father put it, "“For me to send him to school with two eyes and come back with one eye is really absurd."

 

The question is, what are his prospects for success in suing the school for negligence under New York law?

 

The answer is that it depends on whether the plaintiffs can prove that the school knew or should have known of the impending problem, and that had the school acted reasonably, they likely would have prevented the assault from occurring. In legal terms, this is referred to as proving that the school had either actual or constructive "notice" of the danger.

 

In most cases, proving that the school had notice is far from simple.

 

As pointed out in "How to Prove Your School Negligence Case Under New York Law," it is often difficult to establish that the incident was foreseeable and preventable, and this is particularly hard to do in the context of an assault, because many of these incidents happen very quickly, rendering them challenging to thwart.

 
Applied to this case, Kardin will have to prove that the assault in which he sustained these terribly injuries was both foreseeable and preventable. An important factor in making this determination will likely be at what point in the assault Kardin sustained his injuries, or in other words, how long was the assault going on at the school before school officials intervened. If it was a lengthy period of time, chances are the school will have a difficult time defending the case.

Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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