While conducting a tort walk at one of the local middle schools we identified several possible torts. One was of a building code violation, another in the way money was handled in the lunch room. I am going to pursue the building code violation and what the possible injury could be if not corrected. Upon our tort walk we discovered several windows open to the common areas.
These windows were out far enough for a person to walk or run in to. Depending on the persons size this could very easily cause severe injury to oneself. The windows are approximately four feet off the ground tilted out into the courtyard where students and faculty move about. When the bell sounds to change classes there is a lot of movement and confusion. It is easily seen to an observer how one could get hurt. Florida Statute 1001.
42 Says Maintenance and upkeep of school plant will provide adequately for the proper maintenance and upkeep of school plants, so that students may attend school without sanitary or physical hazards, and provide for the necessary heat, lights, water, power, and other supplies and utilities necessary for the operation of the schools. Second, make or contract for additions, alterations, and repairs on buildings and other school properties. Ensure that all plans and specifications for buildings provide adequately for the safety and well-being of students, as well as for economy of construction.
Florida Statute 1001. 43 authorizes facilities management thru the district school board to adopt policies providing for management of the physical campus and its environs, including, but not limited to, energy conservation measures; building and ground maintenance; fencing, landscaping,( and other property improvements); site acquisition; (new construction and renovation); dedication and rededication or naming and renaming of district buildings and other district facilities; and development of facilities management planning and priorities.
Strict liability by the law essentially means liability that is imposed on an actor apart from either, intent to interfere with a legally protected interest without legal justification for doing so, or a breach of a duty to exercise reasonable care. Strict liability arises as a result of the abnormal danger of the activity itself and the risk that it creates to those in its vicinity (Alexander, 2009).
Whether an activity is “ultra hazardous” or “abnormally dangerous” requires asking “whether the risk created is so unusual, either because of its magnitude or because of the magnitude or because of the circumstances surrounding it, as to justify the imposition of strict liability for the harm that results from it, even though it is carried out with reasonable care.
”There are six factors for determining whether an activity is abnormally dangerous: Existence of a high degree of risk of some harm to the person, land or chattels of others; Likelihood that the harm that results from it will be great; Inability to eliminate the risk by the exercise of reasonable care; Extent to which the activity is not a matter of common usage; Inappropriateness of the activity to the place where it is carried on; Extent to which its value to the community is outweighed by its dangerous attributes.
All of these factors are important in consideration, but not all are required, and one is not more important than the other. Negligence can be a part of this scenario as well. Negligence differs from an intentional tort in that negligent acts are neither expected nor intended, whereas an intentional tort can be both anticipated and intended. With negligence reasonable person in the position of the actor could have anticipated the harmful results. An example of this is the window open at the school during class change.
The school knows the courtyard is crowded at this time and have been notified previously that it is a danger to students and faculty. A student runs into it not paying attention while talking to another student. Johnny’s eye is severely cut and requires surgery to fix it. This scenario would follow under this term negligence. It was not really intentional nor was it anticipated but it did happen. The school would be liable in this case. Reasonable person has been described by different courts but has roughly four elements: The physical attributes of the person.
Normal intelligence Normal perception and memory with a minimum level of information and experience common to the community Such superior skill and knowledge as the actor has or holds himself or herself out to the public as having. To have a valid cause of negligence, certain prerequisites must exist. These four categories are divided like this: A duty to protect others A failure to exercise an appropriate standard of care The existence of a casual connection between the act and injury, called proximate or legal cause An injury, damage or loss.
Building codes for public schools are different than private schools. Under the building codes for Florida schools certain safety regulations are required to be in place. Older schools have to be refitted to the standards of today. Some schools are condemned and others remolded to remain open. My course of action would be to retrofit the school with windows that do not open to the outside courtyard that could possibly injure personnel, or to secure the windows so they can only open an inch to prevent students from coming in contact with. Better to fix the problem now before there is a law suit.