Injuries to students during school activity on school property in recreational sports cannot be found liable for simple negligence.


Injuries to students during school activity on school property injuries in recreational sports, you cannot be found liable for simple negligence.

Submitted by New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

On June 11, 2013, Plaintiff C.H. was injured during a student/teacher fundraiser basketball game on school property. It was a voluntary game and an annual fundraiser the school hosted. Around fifteen teachers and seventeen students participated. There was at least one referee and about five teachers who did not play, but were supervising. During the game, C.H. went up for a rebound and made contact with Gary Martin. Plaintiff fell awkwardly and injured her knee because of the contact. In plaintiff’s complaint, she asserted claims for negligence by Mr. Martin and the school and sought damages related to her injury.

After the discovery window closed, defendants moved for summary judgment. The trial court heard oral arguments and, on August 23, 2017, the court issued a written opinion and entered an order granting summary judgment to defendants. The court ruled that plaintiff had failed to present evidence that defendants had acted negligent in their supervision. The court found there was a referee and teachers who were supervising the game. No amount of more supervision would have prevented the injury from occurring. The court as well found participant in recreational sport activity cannot assert a claim of negligence against a coparticipant who causes an injury. Plaintiff must show defendant acted in a reckless or intention manner.

Plaintiff appeals the order granting summary judgment on the argument that defendants owed her a supervisory care and whether Martin acted recklessly during the game. The appellate court found there are no facts showing defendants breached their duty to provide supervision to plaintiff as a student participating in a basketball game. In this case there is no dispute of material facts however, there is two questions of law at hand. First, the school’s duty to supervise, school officials have a duty to supervise the children in their care. Here, there was no showing of a breach of the duty to supervise plaintiff. There was a referee, teachers watching and the game was not conducted in a reckless manner. Second, injuries in recreational sports, you cannot be found liable for simple negligence. There are no facts in the record to demonstrate that Martin used his position as a teacher to conduct himself differently than a normal player nor was there a lack of supervision. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision.

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Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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