Earlier this month, a Connecticut appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a student and his parents against the student’s high school. In the case, Strycharz v. Cady, the appellate court held that the lower court improperly found that governmental immunity protected the assistant principals, who had a non-discretionary, ministerial duty to assign an adult to monitor the entrance to the school’s parking lot. As a result of the court’s decision, the plaintiffs’ case will proceed toward trial against the assistant principals.
Strycharz was a student at Bacon Academy. After being bussed to school, Strycharz and another student briefly left the school grounds to go smoke a cigarette. However, on the way across the busy street, Strycharz was struck by a passing vehicle driven by another student.
Strycharz and his family filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle as well as several administrators at the school. He claimed that the administrators had a duty to assign a school employee to monitor the school’s entrance, since it was known to be very busy in the morning.
The school normally did assign an adult monitor at the school’s entrance, but on the day in question, the monitor was out sick. There was some evidence presented that there was a master schedule outlining who was supposed to fill in as monitor, but no adult was present on the day of the accident.
The school administrators claimed that they were protected by governmental immunity and asked the court to dismiss the case. The trial court found that only the assistant principals had a non-discretionary duty to assign a monitor, and their efforts in creating the schedule fulfilled that duty. As for the remaining defendants, the court determined they were protected under governmental immunity because their duty was a discretionary one, and a government employee cannot be held liable for their discretionary actions. Strycharz appealed.
On appeal, the court affirmed the dismissal of all of the administrators except the assistant principals. As for the assistant principals, the court agreed with the lower court that they did have a ministerial duty but disagreed that the duty was met. The court held that reasonable minds could differ as to whether the assistant principals met their duty, and the issue was one that should be presented to the jury. As a result, the plaintiffs’ case will continue toward trial against only the assistant principals.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident on School Property?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured while in a parking lot or driveway at or near a school, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Owners of parking lots and driveways often have a legal duty to ensure the safe supervision of these areas, especially in the case of schools. The skilled car accident attorneys at the Maryland law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of experience bringing personal injury cases against negligent parties, including against negligent government entities. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Establishing Liability after a Maryland or Washington, D.C. Car Accident, Maryland Accident Law Blog, November 14, 2016.
Case Arising out of Hospital Transportation Injury Required to Comply with Medical Malpractice Requirements, Maryland Accident Law Blog, November 1, 2016.