Hit by car playing hooky, suit blames school

by Walter Olson on February 1, 2012

Having decided to cut classes, a 15-year-old student at Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Fla. was fatally struck by a car one morning last year about a mile from school grounds. “Her mother says school officials could have prevented her death — and she’s pursuing legal action with the hope of changing their supervision and tardiness policies….The notice, drafted by Mamonoff’s attorney Stacy Kemp, offered to drop the matter and settle out of court for $1 million.” [St. Petersburg Times]

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02.12.12 at 9:08 am

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1 adam zur 02.01.12 at 5:08 am

don’t take this the wrong way. i agree that America has gone lunatic with everyone suing everyone else. But in this case it does seem that a school is responsible for a children . I mean the parents have no option to keep the child at home right? So is not the school is responsible in some form?

2 boblipton 02.01.12 at 7:46 am

I understand your issues, Adam and I understand the anguish that makes this woman sue. Still, t seems to me that morally the school is responsible for the student only on school property. If the kid spent the day of studying hard and were hit by a car while bicycling home — I used to bicycle to and from school — there would be no issue.

Bob

3 Richard Nieporent 02.01.12 at 8:51 am

Adam, that is some tortured logic you use to hold the school accountable. She was not an elementary school student who was not capable of taking care of herself.

“The school is supposed to monitor their campus and surrounding areas,” Mamonoff said. “If (students) hang out there, I think (the school) should.”

It is a school, not a prison. If the students decided to not enter the school building there is nothing the school could do about it. If the guards had been monitoring the parking lot, the students would not have entered the parking lot.

4 Ron Miler 02.01.12 at 11:25 am

This case will fail because it does not make sense. The law usually – obviously not always – gets in right. Here, whatever actually caused the death – driver or boy’s negligence – will be seen as an intervening superseding case. This case will never make it to a jury.

5 Jack Wilson 02.01.12 at 11:44 am

RN:”It is a school, not a prison”

What’s the difference?

6 Mannie 02.01.12 at 12:15 pm

I think a better case can be made for finding the parents derelict in their duty to make the kid go to school. And I don’t think much of that case, either.

7 Richard Nieporent 02.01.12 at 1:41 pm

RN:”It is a school, not a prison”

What’s the difference?

The prison has better food. :)

8 Mike 02.01.12 at 10:07 pm

Answer to Ron “Here, whatever actually caused the death – driver or boy’s negligence – will be seen as an intervening superseding case. This case will never make it to a jury.”
The point is not getting to a jury, the point and intent of the lawsuit is to embarrass/expense the school district to the point at which they will settle.Demand : $1 mill.
They will settle for $150K, maybe less.

9 J.T. Wenting 02.02.12 at 5:35 am

“This case will fail because it does not make sense. The law usually – obviously not always – gets in right”

no, it will succeed because 10 dishonest jurors see dollar signs in their eyes imagining similar things they themselves may think up to sue about.
What about sueing your kids’ school for them failing to graduate because the school “should have taken more diligent care that they did their homework”?

10 Ron Miler 02.02.12 at 8:45 am

JT, I love that. Juries are regular Americans. So, the American people are stupid. The American people are dishonest. Really, why do we let these people vote? JT, how dumb do you think the 7th Amendment is? Where is King George when we need him the most?

Mike, I think people presume that. But lawyers filing suits to make defendants “avoid embarrassment” generally don’t get good cases. The school boards have a lot of claims they litigate that make them look a lot worse. Ultimately, does this really make the school look bad. I don’t think so.

11 Adam Zur 02.03.12 at 7:49 am

I am pretty sure that according to the Talmud we hold by rabbi meir that causing indirectly damage is held responsible for some part of the damage. And in this case it seems to me that if the parents had not sent their child to school they would have been slapped with a court summons and jail time.–beside the fact that the girl was in fact nine years old. I am not a lawyer and I don’t know American law and it would take me some time to figure out how American law would really have to deal with this based on the Constitution. I am guessing the Constitution would say that the the individual States would have to determine the case. But let me just say that Ron Miller definitely has a point about the fact that it did not happen on school property.

12 Soul 02.12.12 at 1:14 pm

There is not enough information. If the kid was not on school property, should they not have let the parents know. I think they are required by law to do so. Depending on circumstances, I don’t think this case is quite silly enough to be scrapped without a hearing.

13 Mike T 02.13.12 at 9:59 am

boblipton,

Unfortunately, the doctrine of in loco parentis may complicate this case because it places the parents as legal guardians of the minor while the school is supposed to have custody.

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