The Supreme Court Appellate Division (Second Department) recently rejected the defendant’s arguments for summary judgment in Bloomfield v. Jericho Union Free School District a Long Island premises liability negligence case. The court ruled that the defendant school district did not meet its prima facie burden of proof for summary judgment.
The facts of the case are straight-forward. A young female student climbed atop an outside mat during gym class. While on the mat, the student’s foot became caught in a tear in the mat, causing her to fall to the ground. The gym teacher, a substitute, was not near the girl when the fall occurred.
The defendant school district moved for summary judgment to dismiss the cause of action for premises liability (negligence). In such a motion, the burden of proof rests with the defendant to prove that it (the defendant) did not create the hazardous condition and was unaware of the condition’s existence. If the condition is “open and obvious,” a defendant has no duty to warn of the condition.
The Second Department ruled that the school district failed to establish that it did not have notice of the tear in the mat. The district also failed to establish that the tear was open and obvious. Because both of these issues present questions of fact, the court ruled that the matter could not be summarily dismissed.
Additionally, the court found that the defendant failed to establish that no questions of fact exist regarding the negligent supervision cause of action. The suit will now proceed to trial.