Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a student who died while the teacher was out of the room. The case required the court to determine if the teacher – acting as an official government employee – was entitled to immunity. Finding that the school’s policy regarding the supervision of students left room for the exercise of discretion, the court determined that the teacher was entitled to immunity and dismissed the plaintiffs’ appeal.
The case is important for Washington, D.C. personal injury plaintiffs because it illustrates the type of analysis in which courts engage when reviewing cases filed against a government official, employee, or agency.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiffs were the parents of a young boy who died while attending school. According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the boy fell to the ground while roughhousing with another student. At the time, the teacher had stepped out of the classroom and was not present. However, she asked a teacher in a neighboring room to keep an eye on the students before she stepped out.
The plaintiffs filed a wrongful death case against the teacher, arguing that her negligence in leaving the students essentially unattended resulted in their son’s death. In response, the teacher asserted official immunity, arguing that she was entitled to immunity because her job function of conducting class was discretionary in nature.
The plaintiffs acknowledged that discretionary acts of government employees are covered under official immunity, but they argued that the teacher was required to supervise the students under school policy. The policy at issue stated that “students are never to be left in the classroom unsupervised by a [school employee].” The question for the court was whether the teacher’s act of leaving the room was a discretionary one, or whether it was forbidden by the school’s code.
The court first looked at the school’s policy of never leaving students unsupervised. The court explained that, under the school policy, a teacher did have discretion in determining when it was appropriate to leave the classroom and how to provide supervision in their absence. Thus, the court determined that since the teacher’s actions were discretionary in nature, she was entitled to official immunity. Thus, the plaintiffs’ wrongful death lawsuit was dismissed.
Have You Been Injured in an Accident with a Government Employee?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on government property or involved in an accident caused by a government official, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Washington, D.C. personal injury lawsuit. While official immunity is a hurdle that many victims must face, it is not necessarily an insurmountable one. The dedicated team of Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers has extensive experience assisting victims with obtaining the compensation they need and deserve. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with an attorney, call 410-654-3600 today.
More Blog Posts:
Product Liability Plaintiff’s Case Dismissed Based on Unreliable Expert Testimony, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, January 16, 2018
Court Rejects Insurance Company’s Denial of Golf Cart Injury Claim, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, February 2, 2018