Alexandra Stahr et al. v. Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, Middlesex Sup. Ct.
The Middlesex Superior Court recently granted a Motion to Dismiss in favor of the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School (LSHS) in a negligence suit brought by a former student and several of her family members, arising from injuries the former student sustained during a school field hockey practice. Plaintiffs claimed that during a practice in 2012, Alexandra Stahr was struck in the face by a field hockey stick wielded by a fellow teammate. As a result of the impact, plaintiffs claimed that Alexandra suffered broken teeth and a concussion. Alexandra, along with her parents and two brothers, filed a lawsuit against LSHS alleging a total of fifteen claims, on the grounds that the school was negligent in its failure to prevent Alexandra’s injuries, as well as its failure to properly address her concussion and need for a graduated reentry to school.
PDP responded with a Motion to Dismiss, arguing that all of plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the immunity provided under the Mass. Tort Claims Act, M.G.L. c. 258, § 10(j), which shields a public employer from claims based on its alleged failure to protect a plaintiff against the harmful consequences of a condition or situation, “including the violent or tortious conduct of a third person . . . .” Specifically, Alexandra’s injuries were caused by the stick-play of a fellow teammate – not an affirmative act taken by LSHS. Instead, plaintiffs’ claims against LSHS related only to the School’s alleged failure to “prevent or diminish” the harm. The Court agreed, holding that Section 10(j) barred plaintiffs’ claims and dismissed plaintiffs’ lawsuit in its entirety.