(Los Angeles, Calif.) March 31 – The Law Offices of Howard Kornberg, of Los Angeles, Calif., today announced a major victory in the effort to protect schoolchildren from physical and sexual attacks while they are on school grounds.
Howard C. Kornberg of the Law Offices of Howard C. Kornberg and Stuart Fraenkel of the Law Offices of Kreindler & Kreindler successfully appealed a Superior Court of Los Angeles County decision in Agbeti v. Los Angeles Unified School District granting summary judgment to the L.A.U.S.D. The trial court decided that the school owed no duty to students in an after school program to supervise them and protect them from sexual assault and battery by other students while on campus in a voluntary after school program. Following Mr. Kornberg’s oral argument, the California Courts of Appeal, 2nd District, unanimously reversed the Superior Court’s summary judgment in favor of the school district.
The ruling by the Court of Appeal states that school districts “owe a duty of care” to adequately supervise students in after-school programs and “may be held liable for injuries proximately caused by the failure to exercise such care.” The Court further established that an injured child does not need to prove the existence of prior similar bad conduct by the attackers to establish liability against the school district based on negligent supervision.
Said Attorney Howard C. Kornberg, “It’s nice to win one for the kids and their families who deserve a safe environment while they are at school.” This law will better protect our children and grandchildren at school.
The case involved a girl in second-grade, J.H., attending a Los Angeles Unified School District after-school program. In April of 2006, J.H. was sexually assaulted by a student, while another student held her down and repeatedly slapped her.
At the time of the incident, the playground supervisor was either the only adult or one of two adults, overseeing the program, with over 100 students in the schoolyard.
After the playground supervisor learned of the assault from a student, the supervisor informed J.H.’s mother, who filed a police report. The mother later sued the school district for negligent supervision. The trial court granted a summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding that schools have no duty to supervise children in voluntary after-school programs and that no duty to protect kids from attacks by classmates could be proven unless the school had prior notice of dangerous behavior by the attacker and dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit.
On appeal, in a strongly worded decision, the three-justice court unanimously reversed the decision and remanded the case back to Superior Court for trial, stating “a special relationship exists between a school district and its students, resulting in an affirmative duty on the school district to take all reasonable steps to protect its students. Here, this court noted that the school district’s duty did not end just because the school day did.”
The Law Offices of Howard Kornberg is an acclaimed Los Angeles law firm headed by Attorney Kornberg, who is renowned for more than 30 years of tenacious, successful advocacy on behalf of his clients.
The Law Offices of Howard Kornberg is at 10880 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1840, in Los Angeles, Calif. For more information, call the firm at 310-997-0904.