Granting of School District’s Summary Judgment
Julie P. Apter, a partner in Goldberg Segalla’s Buffalo office, successfully convinced the Court of Appeals for the State of New York, the State’s highest court, to affirm the granting of a school district’s summary judgment in a case involving an incident of sexual abuse on a school bus. The assailant had a history of sexual abuse and psychological issues, resulting in his placement in juvenile homes and facilities. The school district received numerous psychological evaluations and performed its own IEP of the student, resulting in a recommendation that the child would be able to be transported to and from school on a regular school bus with no aide assisting. After lengthy discovery, the district moved for summary judgment on the basis that it lacked any notice that the assailant would engage in this specific type of conduct on a school bus. The district argued that the assailant’s “bad behavior” occurred during his early years as he himself was a victim of sexual abuse. Based upon his progress and lack of any history of assaults at the school, the lower court agreed with the district and granted summary judgment. The Appellate Division, Fourth Department agreed and affirmed the decision finding that the facts established that the district did not possess specific knowledge that would have prevented this act from occurring. After granting leave to appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the granting of summary judgment, finding that the school district did not possess specific knowledge or notice of similar conduct which caused injury to the plaintiff.