Judge rules in favor of school district

By Crystal Burns

A judge ruled in favor of the Trenton Special School District last Thursday, dismissing a lawsuit brought against it in Gibson County Circuit Court.

Judge William Cole, of Tipton County, heard the case in place of Circuit Court Judge Clayburn Peeples, who recused himself in March 2016.

A minor child and his father filed the lawsuit in 2015 after the boy was injured on May 22, 2014 during Trenton Elementary School’s Park Day at Shady Acres Park. Another child hit the plaintiff in the mouth with a wood baseball bat.

The children were 10 years old and in fourth grade at the time of the incident.

The lawsuit stated that the district breached its duty to the plaintiff. Points included the defendant allowing students to bring wood baseball bats to the park and allowing students to swing such bats in close proximity to other students, including the plaintiff, without adequate supervision or instruction; due to the defendant’s negligent decision to allow students to take wood baseball bats to the park and the defendant’s negligent supervision of its students while at the park, the plaintiff’s classmate was allowed to swing a wood baseball bat in close proximity to the plaintiff without the adequate supervision that an ordinarily reasonable and prudent person would provide to children under similar circumstances; as the direct and proximate result of the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff’s classmate negligently struck the plaintiff in the mouth with a wood baseball bat; and the defendant did not have an adequate amount of staff at the park at the time of the plaintiff’s injury to adequately supervise the students, including the student who hit the plaintiff with the baseball bat.

The lawsuit also stated and testimony from children and adults verified that the defendant had informed students prior to Park Day, that they were not allowed to take aluminum baseball bats to the park but could take wood baseball bats.

In his ruling, Cole said he followed the general rules of tort liability. He said the situation was an accident, was not foreseeable, and that he could not conclude that a baseball bat is an inherently dangerous object. Cole said there was no duty breached.

Michael Carter, an attorney with Crocker Carter Hall, PLLC, represented the plaintiff and said they would consider appeal.

In a statement emailed to The Gazette, Carter said, “The Court found this accident was not foreseeable and that baseball bats in the hands of ten year olds are not dangerous. We certainly respect the Court’s decision, but we do not agree with it. I am proud my clients had the courage to bring this case and perhaps schools will take notice that they should better supervise children when they are engaged in these types of activities. We have the right to appeal and we will review that option and decide if we want to go that route.”

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