Vicarious Liability Claim Dismissed In School-Ground Assault Lawsuit


Adding to this site’s archived posts addressing claims of vicarious liability,  reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Penticton Registry, considering a claim seeking to hold a School District liable for a school-ground assault.
In this week’s case (Jackson v. School District No. 53) the Plaintiff sustained a traumatic brain injury after being punched by another student.  The Plaintiff sued the School District arguing the assailant was involved in a previous assault several months earlier and the School District failed to impose adequate discipline which “emboldened (the assailant) by lack of proper discipline“.
Mr. Justice Bernard rejected this argument and dismissed the Plaintiff’s claim finding that even if the school was not harsh enough in their prior discipline there is no chain of causation.  In dismissing the claim the Court provided the following reasons:
[42]         Even if, however, significantly harsher disciplinary measures than those taken ought to have been employed for the March 2 incident, I am unable to conclude that the plaintiff has established the requisite nexus between that failure and the subsequent assault upon him. In this regard, it is noteworthy that seven uneventful months transpired between the two incidents; that the incidents occurred in separate school years and at a time when children and their behaviours are changing rapidly; that it makes little sense that Tylor’s state of mind about Makwalla would have turned on his awareness of the discipline imposed on Makwalla rather than of the details of the incident itself; and, that it would require considerable speculation to conclude either that Makwalla would have been sufficiently deterred or rehabilitated such that the assault upon Tylor would probably not have occurred, or that the assault occurred because Makwalla was emboldened by the inadequacy of the discipline.

bc injury law, Jackson v. School District No. 53, Mr. Justice Bernard, vicarious liability

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ERIK
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When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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