MA Appeals Court Determines Town Not Original Cause of Recess Collision


Attorneys Gerard Donnelly and Patrick Ciapciak successfully obtained affirmation of summary judgment on behalf of the defendant Town in a matter arising out of a recess incident at a public elementary school.

The plaintiffs alleged that the school teacher chaperones supervising recess should have better enforced certain safety rules, thereby creating a dangerous environment that ultimately resulted in an older male student colliding into a younger female student by the school playground.

Attorneys Donnelly and Ciapciak filed a Motion for Summary Judgment for the Town, stating that that the municipal defendant is precluded from liability under the public duty rule of the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, G.L. c. 258, § 10, as the school was not the original cause of the collision. Attorney Donnelly handled oral argument for the motion, and successfully argued that the recess chaperones did nothing to cause the older male student to run and ultimately collide with his classmate, so the plaintiffs’ allegations were effectively arguments of a failure to prevent harm for which the public duty rule provides municipal immunity. The Worcester County Superior Court found in favor of the town, and the plaintiff’s appealed the dismissal.

The plaintiff appealed the Superior Court’s allowance of summary judgment.  Attorney Ciapciak handled oral argument before the Massachusetts Appeals Court, further supporting the Town’s position that the public duty rule provided immunity for the municipal defendant.  The Appeals Court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendant Town.

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