The Spit Wad

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Q: During lunch period in the high school cafeteria, another student threw a foul-smelling spit wad at me.  I went over to his table, and he challenged me to a fight.  Instead, I returned to my table.  At the end of lunch period, in order to go to my next class, I went out to the stairwell.  With three friends, he blocked my access and proceeded to punch and kick me for half a minute.

A: In assuming physical custody and control over its students, a school effectively takes the place of parents and guardians and is liable for foreseeable injuries proximately related to the absence of adequate supervision.  Generally, notice to the school of prior similar conduct is required: an injury caused by the impulsive, unanticipated act of a fellow student ordinarily will not give rise to a finding of negligence.

Perhaps the school district had specific knowledge of your assailants’ dangerous propensities, such as a disciplinary history.  Perhaps the general security measures at the school were inadequate, with too few safety officers in the vicinity of the cafeteria and stairwell, balanced against the frequency of violence between class periods and after lunch.

Seemingly, there was an absence of security in the stairwell precisely when it would be expected that a large number of students would be exiting the cafeteria and using that stairwell, and adequate supervision would have prevented this catastrophe.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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