Plaintiff granted judgment against school board in accordance with jury’s verdict

Ontario civil | Education

Boards of education

Plaintiff granted judgment against school board in accordance with jury’s verdict

Plaintiff student sexually assaulted by another student in school washroom. Student and family members’ commenced action against defendant school board alleging board had failed to properly supervise students. They also alleged board’s post-incident acts or omissions had resulted in adverse effects. During course of jury trial, parties agreed jury should be asked if board had breached standard of care and, if so, how, specifically way or ways in which board had failed to act as careful or prudent parent. Jury found board had breached standard of care after incident and referred to s. 2.6 of Safe Schools Policy and s. 12 of Safe Schools Procedure to explain how. Jury awarded damages to student, mother and grandmother but not brothers or grandfather. Counsel for plaintiffs sought judgment in accordance with verdict pursuant to s. 108(5)(b) of Courts of Justice Act (Ont.) and R. 52.09 of Rules of Civil Procedure (Ont.). Board opposed, claiming jury had misunderstood and failed to comply with court’s instructions. Board submitted there was no evidence of breach of s. 2.6 of Policy and no evidence that breach of s. 12 of Procedure had caused any damage. Judgment for plaintiffs. Standard of review of civil jury verdict exceptionally high. Verdict to be broadly interpreted. From that verdict, it appeared jury had agreed with at least one of plaintiffs’ theories, namely that board had responded inadequately to incident and that inadequate response had caused damage to student, mother and grandmother. Evidence supported those findings. Court not entitled to usurp jury’s role or weigh reasonableness of evidence. Court not in position to disregard verdict.
Prentice v. Thames Valley District School Board (Jan. 30, 2015, Ont. S.C.J., A.D. Grace J., File No. 1467/10) 250 A.C.W.S. (3d) 244.

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