$10 Million Jury Verdict in Injury Case Against Private Boarding School
Courtney Sweasy—November 21, 2022
Charlottesville jury finds in favor of minor who sustained injuries while in the care of a private boarding school
The lawsuit arose after the plaintiff suffered a debilitating injury while in the care and supervision of a private coeducational and college preparatory day and boarding school for minor children grades 8 to 12 consisting of day-time academic classes and extra-curricular programs. The plaintiff at the time of injury was 15-years old and was a full-time boarding resident at the school.
The injury occurred while students were conducting a mandatory service project next to the Rivanna River. The students were tasked with cutting bamboo in order to create an overlook to the river. Prior to the students arrival, other volunteer organizations and individuals had attempted to maintain the bamboo but as a result, created spear like bamboo canes that the students had to navigate while conducting their service project. During the service project, the plaintiff lost his footing and was impaled by a partially-cut bamboo cane.
Plaintiffs allege that the school was negligent in initiating the service project by having an inexperienced teacher to lead, what plaintiffs claim, never should have been conducted in the first place. The school claimed that they acted within reasonable care with the selection and approval of the project, and while they were not perfect, they acted with reason.
Before trial, the plaintiff settled his claims against the landowner for the sum total of $750,000. The trial against the school was disputed on liability and damages. Plaintiff called several witnesses to demonstrate that this was an unsafe activity with the use of dangerous equipment. Additionally, the plaintiff presented evidence of long-term physical and mental consequences of the injuries he sustained. The school contested the plaintiff’s claimed damages and their long-term effects.
The jury deliberated for 4.5 hours and returned a verdict resulting in an overall recovery for the plaintiff of $10,750, 000.
“There’s no amount of money that will ever heal the scars both mental and physical that our client has to endure everyday as a result of this incident. However, we asked this jury to evaluate the evidence and to perform a function that we, without them, could not perform. Which is holding the Miller School accountable for causing this harm to our client. They served that function and did justice with this verdict and for that we are grateful.”Kevin Biniazan
The plaintiff was represented at trial by Kevin Biniazan and Scott Perry, partners at the law firm of Breit Biniazan.
By Courtney Sweasy