The gold standard of excellence for more than 80 years, Bloomberg BNA’s The United States Law Week® is the most authoritative way to keep up with important cases and other legal developments...
Aug. 4 — A student who contracted a potentially life threatening illness on a school trip to China will have to wait a little longer to see if a $41.5 million damages verdict will stand, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Aug. 3 certified two questions to the Connecticut Supreme Court.
Cara Munn contracted tick-borne encephalitis, which causes inflammation of the brain, while on a school-sponsored trip to China. She is now mute, has difficulty controlling her facial muscles and lost some cognitive function, but manages to live a functional life, according to the court.
She and her parents sued sponsor of the trip Hotchkiss School alleging a failure to warn Munn of, and a failure to protect Munn against, the dangers of TBE. A jury found for the Munns and awarded about $10 million in economic damages, and another $31.5 million in noneconomic damages.
The court here held that the injury was foreseeable within the meaning of Connecticut law, but couldn't determine if the public policy of the state would favor imposition of the duties asserted by the Munns against the school. Both parties “present colorable arguments on either side,” it said.
The Second Circuit therefore certified the question to the state's high court.
“Connecticut case law provides limited guidance on this issue,” the scope of the negligence duty is traditionally a state issue and “this case is likely to have repercussions beyond this particular fact pattern,” affecting the extent to which schools would be able to offer extracurricular activities, the court said.
The court also certified the question whether lowering the jury's damages award would be appropriate. The court said it was “difficult to determine how the damages related to the evidence at trial,” especially given the relative size of the noneconomic award.
It also noted that the size of the award was “intertwined with the broader public policy issues relating to educational trips,” which favored resolution of the issue by the state court rather than the federal court.
Horton, Shields & Knox, P.C. and Wiggin and Dana LLP represented the defendant. Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder represented the plaintiff.
To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Datlowe in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeffrey D. Koelemay at firstname.lastname@example.org
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)