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Court of Appeals overturns trial judge and summarily disposes of young man's injury claim

A ninth-grader at Henry Ford High School sued the school, his teacher and several other employees after he was assaulted by another student.  He alleged that the assaulting student had threatened and assaulted him repeatedly in class, prior to the injurious assault, and that the teacher was grossly negligent (the threshold  standard of liability for a government employee) in failing to intervene effectively.

The trial judge granted summary judgment as to all defendants except the teacher.  He deemed it a question of fact for the jury to decide whether the teacher's conduct rose to a level of negligence that would meet the governmental immunity threshold.  The Court of Appeals reversed and held that the teacher's actions could not be gross negligence as a matter of law. It ruled that "quite obviously [the alleged delay in responding to the threatening conduct against the plaintiff] is not conduct 'so reckless as to demonstrate a substantial lack of concern for whether an injury results.' "  Once upon a time, this kind of analysis was preserved for a jury by the higher courts' analysis of our Constitution.

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