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School corporation sued by attacked students wins on appeal

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A student who filed a lawsuit against his school corporation after he was assaulted by a fellow student while a teacher was in the hallway lost his negligence case on appeal Thursday. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of the school.

Richard Prancik was a seventh grader at Oak Hill Junior High School in November 2009 when he was put in a choke hold from behind by student K.M. in a classroom during a passing period. Prancik lost consciousness and injured his face when he fell. The classroom teacher, Rita Nolan, was standing in the hallway during the passing period supervising students as required by school policy. She did not see the incident.

The Court of appeals reviewed several cases addressing the nature and scope of a school’s duty to prevent children from coming to harm while in the school’s custody and care and the quantum of proof necessary to establish a possible breach of that duty. The cases show that courts will not shy away from holding as a matter of law that a school did not breach its duty to reasonably supervise children in their care and control where the facts warrant such a holding. Prancik’s case warrants a ruling in favor of the school corporation.

While Nolan could have positioned herself better to be able to view students in both the classroom and hallway, which may have prevented the attack, such speculation is insufficient to avoid summary judgment, Judge Michael Barnes wrote in Richard Prancik, b/n/f, Renee Prancik v. Oak Hill United School Corporation, 27A05-1302-CT-86.

There’s no evidence K.M. had violent tendencies or of any prior altercations between the two students. Nolan was following school policy and the time that Prancik and K.M. were left unobserved was no more than four minutes.
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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