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Immunity Preempts Abused Student's Claim for Negligence

by Joseph C. Maya on Apr. 19, 2017

Other Education Accident & Injury  Personal Injury Government 

Summary: Blog post about a student that was unable to sue the school board because they were protected by governmental immunity.

If you have a question or concern about special education law, school administration, federal standards, or the overall rights of a student, please feel free to call the expert education law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. in Westport today at (203) 221-3100 .

In the case of Negron v. Ramirez, an aunt sued the school board on behalf of her niece, for injuries resulting from an alleged sexual assault that took place under their negligent supervision. The complaint claims that the niece reported the incident to the school principal, whom negligently failed to execute proper disciplinary action, sufficient security measures, and reasonable precaution to avoid harm to the niece. Negligence is the failure of an individual to use reasonable care, which results in either damage or injury to another. To prevail in a claim for negligence, the aunt and niece must prove that (1) the school board owed her a duty; (2) the school board breached that duty and; in doing so (3) directly caused the niece (4) a real and compensable injury. The school board moved for summary judgment. A motion for summary judgment is a request for a court’s preemptive judgment in favor of one party over another.

The teacher and board of education claimed that the aunt and niece’s claims were barred by the doctrine of governmental immunity granted by Connecticut and Federal law. Governmental immunity protects state agents, agencies and employees from being sued. The court granted the board’s motion. The school board's anti-bullying and sexual harassment policies were followed in a previous rape threat and the alleged touching that occurred here. The school board was sued for failing to properly supervise the students at a school. Allowing a suit for negligent supervision after an alleged offensive touching that lasted seconds in a room where a teacher was present violated the policy behind governmental immunity. However, board, and its teacher's, acts were discretionary and they had governmental immunity under Connecticut and Federal law.

Summary judgment motion granted. “The [board of education and its administrators] are not being sued for failing to adhere to the Board's anti-bullying or sexual harassment policies” said the court. “these policies were followed by school staff and administrators in both the previous rape threat and the actual alleged touching that is the subject of this suit . . . To allow students to sue the town, board of education and their principal for negligent supervision arising from an alleged offensive touching that lasted mere seconds in a classroom setting where a teacher was present would fly in the face of the policy rationale behind governmental immunity.”

If you have a child with a disability and have questions about special education law, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq., at 203-221-3100, or at JMaya@mayalaw.com, to schedule a free consultation.

Source: Negron v. Ramirez, 2011 Conn. Super. LEXIS 1480, 2011 WL 2739499 (Conn. Super. Ct. June 10, 2011)

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