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TORT AND LIABILITY

Artifact #3 Tort and Liability - Ray Knight


Jennifer McNutt
College of Southern Nevada
09/21/2016

TORT AND LIABILITY

Abstract
Many events can happen within a childs typical school day. It is true that every effort is taken to
make sure that each individual child leaves home for school and arrives back safely.
Unfortunately, this does not always occur. Should someone be held accountable, or was the
incident an accident? The following is a scenario in which some could find that the school in
which the child in question attended should be held liable of negligence. Others may find that it
was an accident and no one should be held accountable. In the next few paragraphs I will give
examples on how either the school itself, or the childs parents could have receive a favorable
ruling in this given scenario. Lastly I will explain my personal views on this case.

TORT AND LIABILITY

Introduction
Ray Knight, the student in question, attended middle school. It is further reported that on
several occasions Mr. Knight had accrued unexcused absences. Per school policy, these
unexcused absences were grounds for the suspension of Mr. Knight. It is school district policy to
send written notice as well as notify parents by phone of a childs suspension. While Mr. Knights
School did send notice home with the student for the parents to review, there was never a phone
call made. It is also noted that Mr. Knight threw away the notification given to him for his
parents read. These acts resulted in Mr. Knights parents never knowing of his suspension. With
that being said, Mr. Knight preceded to go to a friends house on the first day of his suspension
from school. The students parents believed that Mr. Knight was leaving for school that day just
like any other. Tragically, Mr. Knight would end up being accidently shot while at his friends
house.
Pro Support
While it is true in this case that the school failed to both call Mr. Knight Parents and send
home notification. It is believed that the element of causation is unable to be proved. There is not
a direct connection between the failure of parental notification and Mr. Knight accidently being
shot by his friend (Underwood, 2006, p.100). Furthermore, middle school children know that
handling weapons such as guns can be dangerous. In some cases if these weapons are handled
without care there can be deadly consequences. Given the situation that day this is something
that the school should not be held responsible for as in the case Hutchison v. Toews (1970)

TORT AND LIABILITY

Moreover, it was the negligent acts of Mr. Knight himself that lead to the unfortunate
injuries he would suffer. These types of acts fall under contributory negligence and no liability
reward should be ordered (Underwood, 2006, p.108). It was Mr. Knight who through away the
notice that would result in his parents not knowing of his suspension. It was also his actions that
took him to his friends house that day which resulted in his injuries. This is similar as with the
circumstance that occurred in Brahatcek v. Millard SCH. DIST., SCH. DIST (1979)
Con Support
On the other hand, the school in which Mr. Knight attended did fail to meet the guidelines
as promised in their school policy. Per school policy Mr. Knights School should have informed
the students parents by phone as well as by written notification. As previously stated the school
failed to notify Mr. Knights parents by phone, thus failing to meet guidelines described by the
school policy. Furthermore, a child of Mr. Knights age should not be held solely responsible in
notifying his parents of his own suspension. These types of acts give adequate proof of a
negligent breach in the elements of care that was expect to be provided to Mr. Knight by his
school (Underwood, 2006, p. 103-104). The ruling in the case of Munn v. Hotchkiss School
(2015) proves that this is a reasonable argument in this case.
It should also be noted that Mr. Knights parents believed that they were sending their son
to school that day. They had believed that their child was being placed in the safety and care of
the school. They had received no notification of Mr. Knights suspension, therefore they had no
reason to suspect that he would be going anywhere else that day. Due to these facts it is believed
that the school should be held responsible for the injuries occurring during the time that Mr.
Knight was to be at school. These factors prove that the school failed to provide Mr. Knight with
adequate supervision (Underwood, 2006, p. 101). The Iowa Supreme Court made a rule in favor

TORT AND LIABILITY

of a case similar to this in Mitchell v. Cedar Rapids Community School District (2013). It is
in this case that a special education student was sexually assaulted in an off campus, after hours
school program. Negligence was proven to be in part due to the lack of the supervision of the
school.
Final Thoughts
It is my personal belief that the school is found to be negligent in the case. The school
failed to properly contact Mr. Knights parents by both phone and written notification. It was
written in their policy for this to have been done. A child of middle school age should not be held
solely responsible in notifying parents of a suspension. When Mr. Knights parents watched their
child leave the house that day, they had no reason to believe that he would not be going to
school. Had they been properly notified they may have thought differently. I find that the school
can be found as violating most every element that defines negligence, and therefore should be
held accountable.

TORT AND LIABILITY

References
Brahatcek v. Millard SCH. DIST., SCH. DIST. # 17 (January 10, 1979).
Hutchison v. Toews (Court of Appeals of Oregon, Department 2 September 24, 1970).from
http://law.justia.com/cases/oregon/court-of-appeals/1970/476-p-2d-811-0.html
Mitchell v. Cedar Rapids Community School District, No. 120794 (June 21, 2013).
Munn v. Hotchkiss school, No. 142410cv (United States Court of Appeals for the Second
Circuit August 3, 2015).
Underwood, J., & Webb, L. D. (2006). School law for teachers: Concepts and applications.
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.