Doe v. New Britain

860-249-1361 x 143

Howd & Ludorf, LLC attorneys Thomas Gerarde and Ashley Hoyt recently won summary judgment for the City of New Britain Consolidated School District and its Middle School Dean of Students in Jane Doe v. Cabral et al. In the suit, Doe asserted that she was sexually abused by her math teacher during her 8th and 9th grade years. The inappropriate relationship was kept secret until a parent of a family friend heard about it and informed the school district. The school district immediately removed the teacher and contacted police and state child protection authorities. Doe sued the school district and its Dean of Students, alleging negligence in the operation and supervision of the middle school, and it’s teachers. The defendants moved for summary judgment based on governmental immunity. The court determined that the supervision of school students, and school staff, involved judgment and discretion, such that immunity would bar the suit unless an exception to the doctrine applied. The only possible exception was the identifiable person/imminent harm exception, and the court found that this exception would not apply, given that it was not apparent to any school leader that the plaintiff was subject to imminent harm at the hands of the teacher. The court also found that the school district would not have vicarious liability for the acts of the offending teacher; and there was no obligation to indemnify the offending teacher given the intentional and criminal nature of the teachers misconduct, even though the Plaintiff tried to couch the conduct of the teacher as negligent.