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The Best Defense to a Negligent Supervision Claim in New York


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9/13/2011
Jonathan Cooper
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Sometimes, you read about a case, and when you see that it was dismissed, it is hardly surprising.

The negligent supervision case of Navarro v. City of New York is one such case.

In Navarro, New York's Appellate Division, First Department reversed the Bronx County trial court's ruling, and affirmatively dismissed the case after the jury rendered a verdict in the plaintiff's favor.

You may be wondering, why would a court go to such lengths, and in the process disturb a jury's verdict? The answer is clear: because there was not one, but two compelling reasons that the case required dismissal.

First, the plaintiff, who was struck in the face by a baseball bat that was being swung by a fellow student during warm-ups for a softball game, inherently assumed the risk of injury. (For more on this topic, please see "NY Court Holds Child's Risky Behavior Doesn't Bar School Negligence Claim").

Second, and more importantly, the plaintiff testified that only three to five seconds elapsed between her giving the bat to the other student and the bat's striking her face. To that end, "Where an accident occurs in so short a span of time that even the most intense supervision could not have prevented it, any lack of supervision is not the proximate cause of the injury and summary judgment in favor of the [defendant school district] is warranted'" (Esponda v. City of New York, 62 AD3d 458, 460 [2009], quoting Convey v. City of Rye School Dist., 271 AD2d 154, 160 [2000]).

And it is the latter point that is often the most compelling defense to a negligent supervision claim: that even had the school or other caregiver done everything correctly, the accident would likely have occurred anyway.


Category: School Negligence / Personal Injury

Jonathan Cooper
Employment Litigation and School Negligence Lawyer

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