Brooklyn appeals court limits liability of school in student’s death

From: Brooklyn Daily Eagle

A panel of Brooklyn Appellate Court judges ruled that a Queens high school may not be wholly liable for the death of a student who collapsed to her death during a physical education class.

According to court papers, 11th grader Schermiela Palmer collapsed and died after walking and running around a track at Beach Channel High School. Palmer’s parents filed a suit against New York City, the New York City Department of Education and the school itself, asserting that the parties were negligent in the supervision of their child.

Palmer’s parents sought a summary judgment from the court that  as a matter of law — as opposed to a matter of fact — the school’s negligence caused their daughter’s death.  In order to succeed on summary judgment, one has to prove that there are now facts in dispute in the case at hand and that the law demands that the defendant be found liable of the actions claimed.

New York’s Education Law requires that schools “provide and maintain on-site … automated external de-fibrillation (AED) equipment.”  It appears from court papers that Beach Channel High School did not have an AED device on hand which, Palmer’s parents say, would have saved their daughter’s life had one been readily available. As such, the parents’ argument continued, the lack of an AED device contributed to the death of their child.

While law requires that AED equipment be on school sites, evidence showed that any “alleged failure [of the school] to provide ready and appropriate access to an automated external defibrillator was not a proximate cause of the decedent’s injuries.”

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