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$________ Municipal liability - Negligent supervision - Football game during unsupervised physical education class results in injury to teen-age boy - Knee injury - Arthroscopic surgeries and ACL repair - Bench trial on damages only.

Erie County, New York

Negligent supervision lay at the heart of this municipal liability trial concerning an injury to the 13-year-old male plaintiff student which occurred during a football game that spontaneously started when he was left unsupervised with the rest of his classmates for an entire class period. Negligence and proximate cause had already been found in a liability trial one year earlier, with this action to decide by the Court on the issue of damages. The defendant school claimed that the plaintiff’s knee surgeries resulted from his re-injuring the knee after the incident.

The evidence revealed that the plaintiff, along with his fellow students, had been dismissed from homeroom into the gymnasium for Phys Ed. It was the regular time for the Physical Education class, but there were no teachers present and the students were left alone and unsupervised for the entire period. With no teacher present, the students began a game of pick-up football. During this game, the plaintiff was pushed into a metal container, severely injuring his left knee, necessitating arthroscopic surgery. A second arthroscopic surgery followed and eventually a full ACL repair was performed.

At trial, the plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon testified that by the age of 45 to 50, the plaintiff would need a total knee replacement. This expert further opined that by the age of 60 to 70, the plaintiff would need a second knee replacement. An economist also testified on the plaintiff’s behalf.

The defendant raised the possibility that the plaintiff had actually re-injured his knee after the incident had occurred, but no evidence was presented to support this position.

The judge awarded the plaintiff $________, broken down as follows: $________ for past pain and suffering, $________ for future pain and suffering, and $________ for medical specials.

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