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Running head: TORT AND LIABILITY 1

Tort and Liability

Oscar Garcia

College of Southern Nevada


TORT AND LIABILITY 2

Abstract

Ray Knight, a middle school student, decided to throw away a notice that clarified he was

suspended by the school district. He was suspended due to unexcused absences that led from his

first day of being suspended to accidently getting shot while going to his friends house. With

Rays parents unaware of his suspension, the school district are in jeopardy since they never

notified his parents through a phone call or a written notice by mail.

Keywords: suspension, incident, negligent, tort liability.


TORT AND LIABILITY 3

Tort and Liability

Ray Knight, a middle school student, decided to throw away a notice that clarified he was

suspended by the school district. He was suspended due to unexcused absences that led from his

first day of being suspended to accidently getting shot while going to his friends house. With

Rays parents unaware of his suspension, the school district are in jeopardy since they never

notified his parents through a phone call or a written notice by mail.

Tort liability is described as more of a civil cause than a criminal case when the

individual has infracted their contract, for they are accounted to any damages made (Cambron-

McCabe, McCarthy, & Thomas, 2009). There are three types of tort that can result, which are

negligence, intentional torts, and defamation. However, negligence is what occurs in the

scenario. This is where a person ignores their legal duties to protect another from unreasonable

risk of harm (Cambron-McCabe et al., 2009). To establish this claim, the person needs to have

the duty of supervision over another person, they need to breach their duty, and their negligent

needs to be the reason for an injury caused. To keep things fair, the defendant has a chance to

argue against negligence with contributory negligence and comparative negligence. Contributory

negligence is when the actions of the plaintiff are substantially responsible for the injury, but

children are not considered to be at the same standard of care as adults. Comparative negligence

is when the plaintiff and one or more defendants are responsible for the situation (Cambron-

McCabe et al., 2009). For example, the school district can be 35 percent at fault, the parents can

be 50 percent at fault, and the student can be 15 percent at fault, but the result can be numerous.

Rays parents claim that the school district was negligent to their duties for the incident

that took place with their son. The Sanford v. Stiles case introduces the state-created danger

theory in which a plaintiff can justify. This theory includes four elements, which are:
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Whether the harm ultimately caused was foreseeable and fairly direct, a state actor acted

with a degree of culpability that shocks the conscience, a relationship between the state

and the plaintiff existed such that the plaintiff was a foreseeable victim of the defendants

acts, or a member of a discrete class of persons subjected to the potential harm brought

about the states actions, as opposed to a member of the public in general, and a state

actor affirmatively used his or her authority in a way that created a danger to the citizen

or that rendered the citizen more vulnerable to danger than had the state not acted at all.

The mother in this case failed to meet at least two of the four elements, so she was unable

to give enough reasoning for the cause of her childs suicide (Miller, 2011).

Following the state-created danger theory, Rays parents can state that not being notified

led them to believe that their child was still going to school under the third elemental point. Since

the school did not prioritize by giving the note to the parents instead of the student, it put the

student in a more susceptible position under elemental point four. Overall, the school not

following protocol procedures of notifying Rays parents, which was required, is the reason they

are to blame. The parents also impose that there was no evidence of a note given to their son

since he threw it away. The Carr v. the School Board of Pasco County case had a high school

student who got injured by running against a metal bench during his track session (Carr v. School

Board of Pasco County, n.d). The judges concluded that a new trial must be granted if the verdict

is against the manifest weight of evidence. In other words, the school district failed by giving the

notice to only the student who apparently threw it away.

The school district argues that they have no duty to protect the individual when they

cannot control the third party who causes the injuries off-campus. The Collette v. Tolleson

Unified High School case is described to have a high school student, along with others, who got
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into a car collision after the student lied to go off-campus during his lunch hour (PBworks,

2007). The plaintiff, who was the victim that got hit by the students car, sued both the student

and school district for negligence. Luckily, the school district defended itself by stating injuries

caused by a third party off-campus cannot protect the individual in which courts agreed. From

the accident that happened to Ray, the school had no control over the person who accidently shot

him because he was off-campus. The school also states that a proper procedural due process for

the student suspension was made. The Goss v. Lopez case had nine students from multiple

schools that were given a 10-day suspension from their school without hearings (Goss v. Lopez,

n.d.). The court decided that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the student by taking away

their education or property interest, which cannot be taken away without Due Process. Students

should be given at least a notice and some kind of hearing. In Rays situation, the school did

indeed give him a reasonable explanation for his suspension and a note to give to his parents.

Under the comparative negligence, the school is at 65 percent at fault because they did

not bother sending some kind of notification to Rays parents. The student is at 20 percent at

fault because they decided to skip school instead of telling his parents the truth. The parents

are at 10 percent at fault for not being responsible for their own child, and the random shooter is

at 5 percent at fault for shooting a gun on an innocent person. Meaning, this case goes in favor of

Rays parents, but the damages are paid prior to the percentages. According to the Collette v.

Tolleson case, the school claims that they have no control over Rays accident because it was

caused by a third party off-campus. Although the school has a solid point, Rays parents do not

agree with it because the injury could have easily been avoided. From the Sanford v. Stiles case,

they associate the state-created danger theory. Rays parents can cover all four elemental points

by stating that they did not get information of their childs suspension. Since they did not get
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notified, it led to their sons accident. It also may surprise the judges that the school did not make

a call or email to the parents as it was required from the school to arrange. The school follows-up

with the Goss v. Lopez case by stating they did give the note to Ray, so he can hand to his

parents with a reasonable explanation for his suspension. However, the Carr v. the School Board

of Pasco County establishes that if there is evidence on the verdict, then the case goes into a new

trial. Unfortunately, the school district only gave the note to Ray who threw it away afterwards.

This leaves the court judges to create assumptions whether the school district did not give Ray a

note, or whether Ray intentionally threw away the note or lost it by accident. Since the court

cannot come up with a solid conclusion on that suspension note, it cannot side with the school

district until there is evidence of the note or a notification to the parents. Theoretically, if the

school district did notified the parents of Rays suspension, then the liability would shift more

towards the parents. This means that the comparative negligence would be different with the

parents being the higher percentage at fault.


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References

Cambron-McCabe, N. H., McCarthy, M. M., & Thomas, S. B. (2009). Legal rights of teachers

and students. Boston: Pearson Education.

Carr v. School Board of Pasco County, 921 So. 2d 825. (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2016, from

https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/1920267/carr-v-school-bd-of-pasco-

county/?q=carr v. school board of pasco county

Goss v. Lopez. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved April 17, 2016, from https://www.oyez.org/cases/1974/73-

898

Miller, D. N. (2011). Child and adolescent suicidal behavior: School-based prevention,

assessment, and intervention. London: The Guilford Press.

PBworks. (2007). Torts. Retrieved April 17, 2016, from http://legalaspects.pbworks.com-

/w/page/16108576/Torts.