If you slip and fall entering a school for a parent-teacher conference, you can sue the school, court rules

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that parent-teacher conferences are not the sort of "public" events that a city can use to protect itself against lawsuits by people who slip and fall while on their way inside to meet with their kids' teachers.

The ruling by the state's highest court means Michelle Wilkins of Haverhill will be allowed to make the case that the city owes her big time for the injuries she suffered slipping on ice outside the school.

A Superior Court judge had sided with the city and tossed her suit, saying the school was covered by a state law that bars actions against institutions that open their doors to the public for free events.

But the SJC says parent-teacher conferences, even if held in a public facility, are not public:

Even assuming that the city opened the school to all parents with students enrolled there, such an invitation still would apply only to a discrete segment of the general public. As the city concedes, the school was closed to individuals without enrolled students. The city argues that Wilkins's attendance afforded her an opportunity to participate in her child's educational experience, and that "[s]uch participation benefits not only the parent but the child as well." That a school serves a general educational purpose, however, does not suffice to put it within the public use statute. We do not agree that the benefit to the parent of a parent-teacher conference, albeit indirectly related to the child's education, constitutes an educational purpose for the parent within the meaning of the public use statute. In any event, such a benefit does not convert the activity into one that is open to the general public.

Neighborhoods: 

    Topics: 

    Free tagging: 

    Comments

    Just what we need

    By on

    Another excuse to encourage people to demand an unjustified lottery payment at the expense of the taxpayers to file frivilous lawsuits because of incidents happening due to their own inattention or carelessness.

    up
    17

    Right

    Because extensive medical bills due to negligence are frivolous expenses.

    Please do some research on what sorts of lawsuits actually make it through to settlement and try again. It isn't what the lobbyists for corporate irresponsibility want you to think it is.

    up
    14

    You know how stables

    By on

    are now required to post huge signs saying, in essence, horses are unpredictable and sometimes dangerous and we cannot guarantee that you won't be hurt or killed while hanging out here? I feel as if the same blanket rules should apply to New England in winter. I'm sorry if in fact this woman was grievously injured but ice happens. People fall. Suck it up. Her kid is going to be very popular at this school.

    up
    16

    Maybe

    If they failed to contain a downspout or other feature that created a situation that was unexpected and hazardous, I think they should take some responsibility (not knowing exactly where she fell).

    There is also the issue that thinking such as yours is what makes it very difficult for people using wheelchairs and people with other mobility disabilities to even get out of their houses in the winter - much less hold jobs, attend parent-teacher conferences, or live other than a confined life. That is an old regional attitude that really needs to die.

    up
    22

    winning a personal injury case is not a great "lottery"

    By on

    It always bugs me to see the prevailing view of people that personal injury lawsuits are an unjustified lottery. I am reminded of the comic humor in Office Space where a character suffers a grievous injury and is paralyzed from the neck down--bet he is thrilled because he'll never have to work another day in his life. Then there are those insurance policies where they pay you cash for specific injuries--e.g. lost hand: $5000. The irony is that the prevailing cynicism about personal injury lawsuits probably encourages them because people think they will get a huge settlement for a minor problem when the reality is that they are never truly made whole.

    James Sokolov just bought

    By on

    James Sokolov just bought another dump truck to haul all that sweet settlement cash home.