Plaintiff Tanya Parker filed a civil injury claim in the Philadelphia County Common Pleas Court seeking damages of greater than $50,000 after her four-year-old child (“M.P.W”) was injured while at school. The defendant was the Olde City Day School a child learning and development center that was established in 2010 in Philadelphia. The terms of the settlement are being kept confidential; however, the defense stated that the matter was “settled, discontinued, and ended.”
At the time of the incident, “M.P.W” was playing in what is called the Grasshopper Classroom. Shannon Fulla, a teacher at the school, was tasked with supervising. The Grasshopper Classroom has a tunnel that the children pass through. The child apparently climbed to the top of the tunnel and then fell off, resulting in a supracondylar fracture in the left arm region that needed surgery.
A procedure involving a Kirschner wire implant was performed. The child wore a cast for several weeks and later underwent physical therapy. The claim stated that the child also suffered significant pain and signs of nerve damage.
The plaintiff alleged that the school had demonstrated negligence by allowing a dangerous condition to exist and failing to adequately supervise the children. The defense claimed they were not liable for the accident based on the Pennsylvania Comparative Negligence Act, as well as according to the statute of limitations.
Nature of the Injury
- Pediatric supracondylar humerus fractures (SCHF) are significant injuries to the elbow that are common
- They occur most commonly in children under the age of 10-years-old
- They account for roughly 15% of all fractures that occur to children
- The injury occurs most commonly when the child uses their hand to help “break” a fall
- Healing occurs after a period where the arm is immobilized
In this case, the defense denied liability based on the concept of comparative negligence. In cases of personal injury, it is often determined that the plaintiff also contributed to the injury to some degree. For example, it may be determined that the plaintiff attributed 10% to the overall negligence that led to the injury. In this instance, an award for damages that the plaintiff receives will be reduced by 10%. Plaintiffs are able to pursue damages as long as their contribution to the injury does not exceed the amount attributed to the defendant(s).
School District Liability
Schools have a duty to care for students within the scope or realm of their authority. A school district may be deemed liable for potential failures in supervision and injuries amid school-activities. In Brewington v. Philadelphia School District, a student was injured in the school gymnasium when he ran into a wall.
The parents brought a civil suit on the basis of negligence because the wall lacked padding. The school district sought protection based on governmental immunity. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that the district was not shielded from immunity based on a “real property exception.” This exception states that schools must have sufficient safety features pertaining to “normal or reasonable use of property.”