A New York school district should have known that dodge ball was potentially dangerous for students, according to a state-appellate-court decision that refused to dismiss a case involving a 7-year-old girl who was injured playing the game in a physical education class.
The family of the 2nd grader sued the 4,350-student Vestal Central School District in Broome County, N.Y., after the girl became entangled with another student and fractured her arm during a dodge ball game. Many districts have dropped dodge ball because of liability issues and concerns that the game excludes less athletic students. (“Dodge Ball Takes a Drubbing in Several School Districts,” Feb. 21, 2001.)
The Vestal district had argued that the game was safe and well supervised, and that the accident was unforeseeable. But on Nov. 18, an appellate division of the trial-level New York State Supreme Court cited an expert in sports and educational safety who testified about the possible dangers of the game.
“While there are no established standards of age-appropriateness for dodge ball, it is recognized as a potentially dangerous activity and has been banned by several school districts in New York and elsewhere,” wrote Justice Robert S. Rose.