In the case of Severance v. New Castle Community School Corp and Melton, Severance and Melton were both enrolled in a vocational education program operated by the New Castle Career Center, which is administered through the New Castle Community School Corporation. A fight broke out between two students which resulted in a severe leg injury to Severance. Severance sued the school alleging negligence. The School moved summary judgment based on the fact that they claim Severance was contributorily negligent in bringing about his injuries which may bar recovery and that the school did not breach its duty to Severance. During the summary judgment stage, Severance designated an expert affidavit, which the school moved to strike. The trial court granted that motion to strike and the school’s motion for summary judgment.
Severance would appeal to the Indiana Court of Appeals. On the motion to strike, the school argued that Dr. Peterson, who provided expert testimony regarding the culture of bullying, lacked proper credibility as an expert. The Court found that the testimony was directly related to the school’s supervision of the students and that it should not have been stricken.
On the negligence claim, the Court held that Severance could not be found contributorily negligent as a matter of law based on the actions that he took. It reasoned that a fact finder could reasonably determine that Severance may have in fact acted in a reasonable manner. It also could have been determined that Severance was not the initial aggressor but just someone who failed to walk away. The Indiana Court of Appeals overturned the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the school.
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