Articles Posted in Child Injury

person-1821413_640-300x200During the month of August, back to school activities are in full swing. As a parent, my number one priority for my children is to ensure their safety. This is why I would like to talk about bullying.

Bullying can happen anywhere, on the playground, in the classroom, on the school bus, or even online. It’s hard to know what to do when you suspect bullying behavior, however, no one knows your child better than you. Trust them and have a confidence in your instincts. If you think something isn’t right, you are probably correct.

Be active with your children, make your children feel empowered to do something if they see someone being bullied. Empower your children with the knowledge that it is ok to come forward. Children are often reluctant to say something because they feel ashamed, embarrassed or afraid.

playgroundAlthough we expect all products to be “safe,” there are certain products for which our expectation of safety is  heightened. Indeed, given the vulnerability of children, products intended for use by juveniles are expected to be designed in a manner that accounts for both youthful impetuousness and relative physical fragility. Nevertheless, not all products meet reasonable expectations. For instance, in a recent decision, Bogatov v. City of Hallandale Beach, the Fourth District Court of Appeal was tasked with determining whether liability could be imposed on the manufacturer of an allegedly defective jungle gym.

Bogatov started with a fall at the playground of a Hallandale Beach park. The plaintiff in this case is the father of a two-year-old who was at the playground with his nanny when he fell. The child sustained serious injuries as a result of the fall, and local law enforcement investigated the incident. During the investigation, the nanny, who was the only eyewitness to the fall, told law enforcement that the child was on the jungle gym at the time of the fall. Following this string of events, the father filed suit against the city of Hallandale Beach, alleging that the city’s negligence in maintaining the playground resulted in the child’s injury. The complaint was later amended to add the jungle gym’s manufacturer, which the plaintiff alleged was negligent in the design and construction of the jungle gym, in particular by failing to place grasping handles on the jungle gym.

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photo_18983_20101112In a recent and interesting decision, School Board of Miami-Dade County v. Martinez-Oller, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal addressed whether a high school principal was negligent for failing to disclose a student’s poor disciplinary record to one of her teachers who witnessed an attack perpetrated by that student against another. In an unanimous decision, the Third District determined that the principal did not owe a duty of care to disseminate the student’s disciplinary records, and thus the principal and the school could not be deemed negligent.

The altercation at issue in the case occurred on March 22, 2010. The students were in a world history class when one student directed opprobrious language at another. Insulted, the student hurled an eight-pound textbook at the other. The book made contact with the other student and fractured his eye socket. The teacher was only about three feet away from the students when the incident happened, but the teacher didn’t hear the triggering language. A little more than a year later, the injured student, by and through his parents, brought suit against the school district. The plaintiff asserted claims sounding in negligent supervision, arguing that the principal had a duty to report the attacker’s previous disciplinary incidents to teachers. Under federal law, a student’s educational records, including disciplinary records, are entitled to privacy but may be disclosed to teachers if there is a “legitimate educational interest.” Under Florida law, disciplinary records are maintained at the school but are only accessible to the principal and vice principal unless there is a legitimate educational interest determination made authorizing their dissemination. Although no determination had been made, the trial court had directed a verdict with respect to the issue of whether the principal and, by extension, the school district owed a duty to disclose the student’s prior disciplinary issues to her teachers. The jury was instructed on this and further instructed that the only issue remaining for its determination was whether harm to the injured student was “caused” by the school’s failure to disseminate these records.

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