The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined plaintiff-student’s negligent supervision action against the Department of Education (DOE) should not have been dismissed. Plaintiff’s finger was caught in a door as the door was shut by another student who was acting as a lunch monitor. Plaintiff and other students banged on the door to get someone to open it, but its wasn’t opened for three minutes. The tip of plaintiff’s finger was severed:
… [T]he defendants failed to establish, prima facie, that the DOE adequately supervised the infant plaintiff … , or that its alleged lack of adequate supervision was not a proximate cause of the accident … . Significantly, the defendants’ submissions demonstrated that there was no adult monitoring the area where the accident took place and that, at the time of the accident, an assistant principal in the cafeteria was in the midst of calling for more assistance. Among the triable issues of fact presented by the defendants’ submissions were whether there was an appropriate level of supervision for the seventh-grade students under the circumstances … , and whether the school played a role in empowering or training the student lunch monitor with respect to closing the door to the kitchen.
Although there are certain accidents that occur in such a short span of time “that even the most intense supervision could not have prevented [them and] any lack of supervision is not the proximate cause of the injury” … , this is not one of those cases, especially in light of the fact that the infant plaintiff’s finger remained pinched by the closed door for approximately three minutes while he and his fellow students banged on the door. Fleming v City of New York, 2023 NY Slip Op 05714, Second Dept 11-15-23
Practice Point: The accident–plaintiff-student’s finger was caught (for three minutes) in a door shut by another student who was acting as a lunch monitor–raised a question whether the level of supervision by the school was adequate.