(CN) – A break-dancing middle school student who was hurt while flipping in a classroom can pursue negligence claims against the school district for his injuries, a California appeals court ruled.
Uriel Jimenez was 14 years old when was practicing for the talent show with his friends before school.
They used the classroom of Alan Hall, a math and computer teacher. Jimenez was hurt while doing a flip after Hall had left the classroom.
Jimenez sued the Roseville City School District for negligence and negligent supervision.
One student testified that after Hall left the class, student Jacob Simmons grabbed Jimenez’s arm, prompting him to say “no, no, no.”
Simmons then flipped Jimenez and injured him, according to the witness.
Hall testified that he did not tell the students to stop dancing when he left the room because “it didn’t seem necessary,” court records show. The teacher added that he did not know the students were incorporating flips into their dance routine.
Assistant Principal Pablo Gutierrez testified that he had seen a group of students flipping and forbade them from doing so on two occasions.
The trial court granted summary judgment to the school district, stating that Jimenez had assumed the risk of injury by break-dancing.
However, the Third District California Court of Appeal overturned the decision in a May 19 opinion written by Justice Elena Duarte.
“A jury could find it was foreseeable that the district’s employees tolerated a dangerous situation on its property and failed to ameliorate that danger by supervising the children,” Duarte wrote.
She also cited the testimony of break-dancing expert Daniel Etcheto, who said “flips are not part of the essential character of break dancing” but are instead borrowed from gymnastics and Capoeira as advanced-level dance moves.
In addition, Duarte noted that Hall did not know the students had been flipping, but Gutierrez did.
“Had that information been given to (Hall), he may have declined to open the classroom for dancing, kept a stricter eye on the boys, or at the very least could have provided direct admonishments to the students to curtail their propensity to flip, or cease dancing while he left the classroom,” Duarte wrote.
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