Can a teacher recover damages from the DOE for injuries sustained from a student assault?

No. Betty Brumer, a fourth grade teacher at a public school in Brooklyn, alleges that she was injured when she was assaulted by one of her students. According to the plaintiff, the student had been restrained by a school security guard after engaging in a fight with another boy during a fire drill.

Although the security guard escorted the student away from the  rest of the class, the student subsequently  returned to the  scene and began fighting again. The plaintiff alleges that during this second episode, the student hit her, causing her to fall to the ground and sustain injuries.

The Appellate Division, Second Department, found that while the DOE might owe a special relationship to students no such relationship is owed to teachers and administrators. The Court went further to explain that a special relationship can be formed in three ways: “`(1) when the  municipality violates a statutory  duty enacted for the benefit of a particular class of persons; (2) when it voluntarily assumes a duty that generates justifiable reliance by the person who benefits from the duty; or (3) when the municipality assumes  positive direction and control in the face of a known, blatant and dangerous safety  violation'”

None of these were present for Ms. Brumer.

BETTY BRUMER, Appellant, v. CITY OF NEW YORK et al., Respondents, et al., Defendant. 2014­00461, Index No. 32716/09. 132 A.D.3d 795 (2015) 18 N.Y.S.3d 149 2015 NY Slip Op 07611, Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Second Department. Decided October 21, 2015.

4 thoughts on “Can a teacher recover damages from the DOE for injuries sustained from a student assault?

  1. But this is all wrong. The city doesn’t assume the role of keeping the general public safe upon entering a public school building? The city, through an agency, assumes no responsibility for safety for employees? (If not, then why the need to enforce the EOEA? Why are members of the public arrested and and charged when they threaten or harm a teacher? Why would the city bother enforcing the federal civil rights act? Or any other protective act or amendment?). Of course it does!! There are implicit responsibilities any government assumes when allowing people to publicly gather. That includes teachers as well as anyone else. This court missed the obvious. I can’t imagine this won’t lead to different findings and/or a decision upon an appeal.


    • While I won’t defend the court’s decision in this case I think you misunderstand the holding. As an employer the City does assume responsibility for teacher injuries. That is why we have the ILOD procedure. What the case is holding is that, in tort law, the City does not, absent a special relationship, owe a duty to teachers when they are assaulted by a student. If a school administration had knowledge of a student’s propensity to commit an assault on a teacher and never told that teacher I think the result would have been different.

  2. Succinct account – non incendiary

    I went through ILOD
    It was a dark scary hole. I felt like I was tied upside down being swung back and forth, hitting my head between two building. I lost everything.

    Is it the
    students _NO
    administrators_ NO
    Board of Ed Medical Review Board_ NO

    It is the UFT ILOD
    We are just a statistic to them.
    The UFT is the automobile industry. How many deaths can they get away with due to design safety issues as opposed to the cost to fix the car and make it safe.

    The system is rigged.

    The problem is the ILOD in the UFT contract.
    Now that MORE is in, MORE needs to fix it.

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