Massachusetts Court Rules School Cannot Be Held Liable for Bullying Injuries

Unfortunately, bullying happens in schools all over Massachusetts every day. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a ruling earlier this year that clarifies who can be sued when a student suffers physical injuries from bullying. In the case at issue, an elementary school student was pushed down the stairs by a classmate in an act of bullying. The court affirmed a motion to dismiss after a lawsuit was brought against Lynn Public Schools, the school district in Massachusetts where the bullying occurred. The court held that the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act bars this case from going forward and essentially shields the district from liability for this and similar incidents. This does not necessarily mean the family of the injured student has no civil recourse; there may still be other people who could be held responsible for his injuries. Knowing who should be sued can be complicated due to laws like the Tort Claims Act and similar legislation. That’s why it’s so important to contact a skilled Massachusetts personal injury attorney if you are injured. If you don’t include all of the necessary parties, you may lose your chance to hold them accountable.

The Massachusetts Tort Claims Act

The Massachusetts Tort Claims Act specifies that public employers are liable for negligent or wrongful acts when they are committed by employees acting within the scope of their employment. However, the act includes an exception to liability when the violent or tortious act was committed by a third party, unless the employee was the original cause of the situation.

In this case, the injured party – whose injuries paralyzed him – argued that the school and district were liable because the bullying was an ongoing problem of which the school was well aware. Their theory was that the teachers and thus the school did not fulfill their duty to protect the child and should be held responsible. The plaintiff further argued that the teachers made the children line up in the same order every day, which put the victim in close proximity to his known bully. Therefore, the school caused the situation that led to the injury, satisfying the exception under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act.

Unfortunately for the victim, the court held that the causal relationship between the children lining up and the push down the stairs was too remote for liability. Thus, the court dismissed the claims against the school district and other public actors as being barred due to the immunity granted under the Tort Claims Act.

Contact an Experienced Massachusetts Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has been injured at school or another public place, you should contact a skilled Massachusetts personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable attorney can help you figure out who is responsible for your injuries. As this case shows, it may not always be straightforward. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Neumann Law Group serve Boston, Canton, Worcester, and other areas in Massachusetts. Call them today at (617) 918-7790 or use the contact form on this website to schedule your free consultation!

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