Purzycki v. Fairfield

In Purzycki v. Fairfield, 244 Conn. 101, 708 A.2d 937 (1998), the plaintiffs sought damages for injuries sustained by the plaintiff second grade student when he was running and was tripped by a fellow student in an unsupervised school hallway during a lunch recess period. Id., 103. The hallway was not monitored, but teachers in the classrooms abutting the hallway were instructed to keep their doors open to hear or see any activity in the hallway. Id., 104. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, stating in an interrogatory that the defendant had subjected the child to imminent harm. The trial court granted the defendant's motion to set aside the verdict on the ground that the plaintiffs failed to prove that the plaintiff child was subject to imminent harm. The Supreme Court concluded that there was sufficient evidence from which the jury reasonably could have found that the imminent harm exception applied. The court stated: "In Burns, it was critical to our conclusion that governmental immunity was not a defense that 'the danger was limited to the duration of the temporary . . . condition . . . and that the potential for harm . . . was significant and foreseeable. ' Burns v. Board of Education, supra, 228 Conn. 650. Similarly, the present case involves a limited time period and limited geographical area, namely, the one-half hour interval when second grade students were dismissed from the lunchroom to traverse an unsupervised hallway on their way to recess. Also, it involves a temporary condition, in that the principal testified that every other aspect of the lunch period involved supervision. Finally, the risk of harm was significant and foreseeable, as shown by the principal's testimony 'that if elementary schoolchildren are not supervised, they tend to run and engage in horseplay that often results in injuries.'" Purzycki v. Fairfield, supra, 110.