Plaintiff is a sixth grader who instituted a claim for damages against his school when he was seriously injured when he fell down an flight of stairs on his way to lunch. On January 30, 2021, plaintiff testified that he had been in math class on the second floor right before lunch. According to plaintiff, his math teacher never escorted her class to the lunchroom and that day was no exception. Plaintiff stated that at the sound of the bell, he and his friend headed to one stairwell, while the rest of the class went to the stairwell at the other side of the hall. His friend did not see any adults in the stairwell when he got there, but there were a group of older boys there who moved over as he and his friend approached. Plaintiff testified that he suddenly heard footsteps which sounded like they were coming from a herd of buffalo and the next thing he remembered was waking up in the school nurse’s office with a tissue on his forehead and blood stains on his shirt. Because of the fall, plaintiff suffered brain injury coupled with excruciating pain as being in his head, neck, and lower back. Additionally, his arms and leg were swollen and sore and he was in a neck brace.
In a testimony, plaintiff presented the written policy of IS 292 to have a teacher escort the sixth graders down to lunch from their second floor classrooms. Plaintiff claims that his teacher’s negligent failure to do so proximately caused his injury. According to plaintiff, he has a much harder time understanding his schoolwork since his accident and, as a result, his grades have substantially dropped. He also is unable to remember more than one item at a time and feels “dumb and filtrated. Plaintiff testified that he planned to attend college to study graphic design.
The Brooklyn jury found defendants are negligent in the supervision of plaintiff and found that that negligence was a substantial factor in causing the injuries sustained by him. Defendant move to have the judgment set aside or have a new trial on the issue of liability or in the alternatively, for a new trial on the issue of damages on the grounds that the awards are unsupported by evidence. The plaintiff sought for an increase in the award of damages.
Defendant stated that the attack was not reasonably foreseeable by the school and, since the unprovoked attack was sudden and spontaneous, any lack of supervision by the plaintiff’s teacher could not have prevented it. Thus, concludes defendants, that lack of supervision was not the proximate cause of plaintiff’s injury. The court rejects defendants’ contention that the verdict is contrary to the law.
According to the court, it is beyond cavil that schools 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”. At the trial, a representative from the school testified there exist a written policy that sixth graders must be supervised in the hallways and stairways. It is disingenuous for defendants to claim that such an attack was unforeseeable when their own witness testified that one of the reasons that crowds were kept out of the stairwells by the teachers was because someone could get pushed down the steps.
The Bronx Court opined that the evidence failed to establish as a matter of law that the violation of the defendants’ duty – that is, the fact that there was no teacher in the stairwells – was not the proximate cause of plaintiffs injury or that her presence therein may have prevented the incident.
Thus, the court concluded that defendants have not established their entitlement to judgment as in matter of law, and that the issues of fact were properly left for jury determination. Defendants contend, that its determination was against the weight of the evidence presented at trial. The court held that to sustain a determination that a jury verdict is not supported by sufficient evidence as a matter of law, there must be “no valid line of reasoning and permissible inferences which could possibly lead rational men to the conclusion reached by the jury on the basis of the evidence presented. The Court said that the jury has properly determined that the violation was the proximate cause of the personal injury supported by valid line of reasoning and permissible inferences.
The court denied defendants’ motion which seeks an order reducing the damages awarded plaintiff, as well as plaintiffs’ cross motion seeking an increase: in those damages. It is well settled that the amount of damages to be awarded for personal injuries is primarily a question for the jury, and great deference is given to its interpretation of the evidence and findings of fact, provided there is sufficient credible evidence to support the findings (see Yasquez v Jacobowitz, 284 AD2d 326 (2d Dept. 2001). Here, the jury was presented with credible evidence of plaintiffs mental deficits which resulted from the injury, skills he still possesses, and how his deficits will affect his future earnings. The court finds that the damages awarded were properly based upon a fair interpretation of that evidence.
Stephen Bilkis and Associates with its New York Brain Injury Lawyers can enforce your right arising from another person’s negligence. It has offices situated within New York Metropolitan area, including Corona, New York.
Please be informed that in addition, our New York Brain Injury Lawyers from Stephen Bilkis and Associates can recommend New York Personal Injury Lawyers.