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ARTICLE ID 188593

$________ – SCHOOL LIABILITY – DANGEROUS "HAUNTED HOUSE" ERECTED ON AUDITORIUM STAGE WITHOUT EDGE BARRIER – PLAINTIFF FALLS ONTO FACE – RUPTURED GLOBE TO ONE EYE AND AGGRAVATION OF MACULAR DEGENERATION IN OTHER EYE – SUBSTANTIALLY BLIND IN BOTH EYES – NO INCOME CLAIMS.

Middlesex County, NJ

This case involved a 75-year-old plaintiff who was attending a Halloween event at her grandchild’s school. The plaintiff maintained that students in the drama class had erected a "haunted house" on the stage and that the premises were rendered very dangerous because of the absence of barriers or the placement of warnings to prevent patrons from walking off the front of the stage. The plaintiff named the municipal Board of Education and two teachers who were advisers to the Drama Club, contending that proper supervision of the students was not provided. The plaintiff, who had a long-standing vision loss in one eye related to macular degeneration, suffered a rupture of the other globe in the fall and has been left virtually blind.

The evidence reflected that if one entered the auditorium from the front, as was typically the case, the auditorium sloped downwards until reaching the stage. The Haunted House was erected on the stage, and the plaintiff’s student and school safety, security and supervision expert contended that patrons were funneled directly onto the stage. The expert maintained that patrons would not tend to realize that they were on the stage and that there was a drop-off at the edge. The plaintiff’s expert would have testified that barriers should have been placed and/or the front curtain closed, which would have alerted patrons to the hazard. The expert contended that warnings should have been placed.

The plaintiff walked off the stage and landed on the floor face-first. The plaintiff contended that although she suffered a one-sided vision loss for some years that was related to macular degeneration, she had good vision in the other eye. The plaintiff maintained that the trauma caused an aggravation of the previously affected eye, further reducing the vision in this eye. The plaintiff also contended that she suffered a ruptured globe to the other eye and lost substantially all of the vision in that eye.

The plaintiff maintained that she can now see shades of light only. The plaintiff related that prior to the incident, she was relatively active, enjoyed taking walks, reading, cooking for her family and "babysitting" for her grandchildren. The plaintiff maintained that she no longer reads or cooks, cannot walk without assistance and is dependent upon others, including her husband, children, grandchildren and friends.The case settled prior to trial for $________.

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