Supervision, Even If Inadequate, Could Not Have Prevented Injury Caused by the Sudden, Unanticipated Act of Another Student—Summary Judgment to Defendant Properly Granted
The First Department determined that plaintiff’s injury on the playground could not have been prevented by supervision. Therefore the alleged inadequate supervision was not a proximate cause of the injury. Plaintiff was injured when he hit a pole while running away from another student. The court noted that the board of education, not the city, is the proper party. The city is a separate legal entity not responsible for the torts of the board:
As to the claim against the Board, it is well settled that
“[s]chools are under a duty to adequately supervise the students in their charge and they will be held liable for foreseeable injuries proximately related to the absence of adequate supervision. Schools are not insurers of safety, however, for they cannot reasonably be expected to continuously supervise and control all movements and activities of students; therefore, schools are not to be held liable for every thoughtless or careless act by which one pupil may injure another. A teacher owes it to his [or her] charges to exercise such care of them as a parent of ordinary prudence would observe in comparable circumstances … .
“Even if a breach of the duty of supervision is established, the inquiry is not ended; the question arises whether such negligence was the proximate cause of the injuries sustained” … . ” 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'” … . Thus, “[a]n injury caused by the impulsive, unanticipated act of a fellow student ordinarily will not give rise to a finding of negligence absent proof of prior conduct that would have put a reasonable person on notice to protect against the injury-causing act” … .
Here, even assuming that plaintiff could demonstrate that the supervision during the gym class was inadequate, the Board established a prima facie case for summary judgment by demonstrating that the accident was the result of a series of sudden and spontaneous acts and that any lack of supervision was not the proximate cause of the infant plaintiff’s injury … . Jorge C. v City of New York, 2015 NY Slip Op 03772, 1st Dept 5-5-15