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Tort and Liability

Portfolio Assignment III

Seth Manesse

College of Southern Nevada

Tort and Liability: Portfolio Assignment III 2


Ray Knight, a middle school student, was suspended from school for three days due to

excessive absences. School district procedures require that the parents be promptly informed of

the suspension by a mailed written notice and by a telephone notification. The school did not

follow these required procedures. Instead, the only notification of the suspension was a written

notice sent home with the student who threw it away. Because the required notifications were

not given, Ray Knights parents were unaware of the suspension. During the first day of his

suspension, Ray Knight was accidentally shot while visiting a friends house.

The parents of Ray Knight may have grounds to sue their sons school district for


Arguments for School District Liability

Duty to Protect Students from Foreseeable Harm:

Part of a schools duty to its students is to provide adequate supervision. The case of

Gary on Behalf of Gary v. Meche (1993) shows this duty. This jurisprudence establishes a clear

policy that a school board must reasonably supervise the young children in its care.

While under that supervision, it is also the schools duty to protect its students from

foreseeable harm. According to court case Thomas v. City Lights School, Inc. (2000), A

school's duty to supervise its students... is limited to a reasonable duty to guard against

foreseeable harm.

It is foreseeable that unsupervised minors are likely to exercise poor judgement. When

Ray Knight should have been under school or parental supervision, he was instead

unsupervised and handling a firearm. His accidental shooting is a foreseeable possibility. When
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the school failed in its duty to adequately supervise Ray Knight it also failed in its duty to protect

him from foreseeable harm.

Duty to Provide Adequate Supervision:

The Gary on Behalf of Gary v. Meche (1993) case establishes a schools responsibilities

of supervision and was cited in another court case, D.C. v. St. Landry Parish School Bd. (2001).

In the facts of this other court case a student, K.C., was sent home during school hours, a

violation of policy, and was assaulted.

It is clear that the injury to K.C. occurred during school hours and, therefore, at a time

when K.C.'s actual custody was entrusted to the defendants [Due to] K.C.'s age and

the circumstances surrounding her injury, we find that a causal connection exists

between her lack of supervision and the incident giving rise to her injury. We further find

that the incident would not have occurred but for the absence of the appropriate degree

of care and supervision required under the facts of the case at bar.

K.C. was sent off campus into a dangerous and foreseeable situation. Proper

supervision and care were not exercised in her case. Similarly, Ray Knight was outside of

proper parental or school supervision when he was accidentally shot. The absence of the

appropriate degree of care and supervision by the school makes the school responsible for his


Arguments Against School District Liability

Duty Not Established:

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Ray Knight was fully aware of his suspension. Although the school did not follow its

established notification process, a notice was sent. Ray Knight was given a written notice and

entrusted by the school to deliver it to his parents. When he discarded the notice, he made a

negligent choice. Through Ray Knights own poor choice his parents were not made aware of

their responsibility for his supervision during his time of school suspension.

In the case of Glaser v. Emporia (2001) a student was injured on the way home from


(T)he injury occurred off school premises and at a time when the student was not on

school property or in school custody. Todd was injured after he ran off the school

grounds, across a parking area and into a city street. The school district never undertook

to render services calculated to protect or supervise Todd, either by affirmative acts or

promise to act, nor was Todd under the control or in the custody of the school district.

Thus, there has been no showing that a student-school district duty existed.

In this case the school was not held responsible for the students injuries because he was off

school grounds and out of school custody.

When Ray Knight was accidentally shot, he was not on campus. Because a notification

of the suspension was sent, his custody was the responsibility of his parents. From this

argument, the school owed no duty to supervise or protect Ray Knight at the time of his injury.

Assumption of Risk:

Cave v. Burt (2004) is a court case in which a student was injured while riding on the

trunk lid of a car. The court found that, by engaging in a dangerous act, the injured student

assumed the risks associated with that act.

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We agree with the trial courts conclusion that appellant voluntarily assumed the risks

inherent in riding on the trunk of a car. Riding on a cars trunk lid, like rope swinging,

bungee bouncing, or crossing railroad tracks, is inherently dangerous and risks

associated with it cannot be eliminated.

A person engaging in dangerous activities assumes the risks inherent in those activities.

Handling firearms is inherently risky; when Ray Knight and his friend handled a gun they

assumed the consequences of their actions. Accidental shooting is a tragic possibility when

minors are handling guns inappropriately and without proper supervision.

The school can argue that Ray Knight and his friend assumed the risks of handling a

gun. When this type of incident occurs off campus, a school would typically have no liability.

Conclusion and Decision

It is easily foreseeable that a middle school student bringing a notification of suspension

home to his parents will discard the notice. Because established procedures were not followed

by the school, no proper notification was made. If Ray Knights parents were properly made

aware of his suspension, his supervision would have been their responsibility. His parents had

no reason to believe that Ray was not in school. Through the lack of proper notification,

responsibility for Ray Knights supervision during normal school hours remained with the school.

This was a breach of the schools duty to adequately supervise a student.

Ray Knight took two irresponsible actions that exacerbated this scenario: first, he

discarded the notice of suspension; second, he handled a gun thereby assuming risk. His

actions mitigate some of the schools liability.

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Taking into consideration the schools breach of duty and the foreseeable possibility of

poor judgement of an unsupervised middle school student, but also considering Ray Knights

irresponsible actions I believe the school should be held partially liable. I believe that, due to

comparative negligence, the liability in this case is 50/50.

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Cave v. Burt, 2004-Ohio-3442. (2004). Retrieved March 8, 2017 from Justia website:

D.C. v. St. Landry Parish School Bd. No. 00 01304-CA 802 So.2d 19 (2001). Retrieved March 8,

2017 from Leagle website:


Gary on Behalf of Gary v. Meche No. 93-271 626 So 2d 901 (1993). Retrieved March 8, 2017

from Leagle website:


Glasser v. Emporia USD No. 253 (2001). Retrieved March 8, 2017 from Justia website:

Thomas v. City Lights School, Inc., 124 F. Supp. 2d 707 (D.D.C. 2000) (December 13, 2000).

Retrieved March 8, 2107 from Justia website: