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Is a School Liable for Injuries which Occur On Campus, After Hours?

This is the question recently taken up by the 4th District Court of Appeal in Achay v. Huntington Beach Union High School Dist. (June 28, 2022, No. G060053) ___Cal.App.5th___ [2022 Cal. App. LEXIS 571.

Plaintiff C. Achay was a student on a high school track team, which usually practiced after school until 5:30 p.m. On the date of her injury, practice had ended early.  Achay and her friend walked to Starbucks and returned about 45 minutes later. On the way back to the open campus, they encountered a former student, A. Meer.

Achay retrieved her schoolbooks from the girls’ locker room, which was to be locked at 6:00 p.m. While Achay was walking from the girls’ locker room to the school parking lot she was stabbed by Meer. She suffered serious injuries.

Achay sued defendant Huntington Beach Union High School District for negligence. The District moved for summary judgment on the grounds of duty and causation. The trial court granted the motion, finding that the School District owed no duty of care to Achay for something that occurred after hours.  The trial court found the District owed Achay no duty of care because at the time of the stabbing, she “was no longer on campus during school hours during a school-related activity.”

Ms. Achay appealed this ruling.  The Appeal was successful, resulting in a reversal of the trial court’s grant of summary judgment.  The Court of Appeal held:

  1. A school district owes a duty of care to a student who was stabbed because she was on campus during school-related or encouraged functions, specifically after-school sports. She was on her high school campus after regular school hours to attend track practice, left campus for about 45 minutes following practice, then returned to retrieve her books from an open locker room, and was stabbed when walking from the locker room to the parking lot at a time when another team was still conducting its practice nearby;
  2. There was a triable issue as to whether the district used reasonable security measures to protect its students based on evidence that supervisors were on campus only until 4:00 p.m., even though the public was allowed on campus beginning at 2:30 p.m., and many students involved in sports were still on campus, at least until about 6:00 p.m.

Achay v. Huntington Beach Union High School Dist. (June 28, 2022, No. G060053) ___Cal.App.5th___ [2022 Cal. App. LEXIS 571, at *1].

Heiting & Irwin has decades of experience in cases involving student injuries and/or other cases where School Districts are involved.  If you, or a loved one, were injured due to the negligence of a School District and/or its employees and agents, contact us immediately.  There are strict rules which govern the time in which you have to bring a claim against a School District.  Call us today at (951) 682-6400 or visit us at www.hilegalgroup.com

 

 

Mr. Serrano has been admitted to practice before California State and Federal Courts. He was named to the Super Lawyers’ 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 Southern California Rising Stars List, an honor awarded to no more than 2.5% of attorneys in Southern California each year. View Attorney Jean-Simon Serrano's Attorney Bio Here.

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