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Baheth v. Lafayette Parish School System

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

April 25, 2018

DOROTHY BAHETH, ET AL.
v.
LAFAYETTE PARISH SCHOOL SYSTEM, ET AL.

          APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NO. 2011-7238 HONORABLE PATRICK L. MICHOT, DISTRICT JUDGE

          John W. Milton, Attorney at Law Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant: Dorothy Baheth, on behalf of her minor child, Sharntii Baheth

          Tonya R. Smith, Kathy S. Boudreaux, Brenda L. Mistrot, Smith & Boudreaux, LLC, Counsel for Defendants/Appellees: Lafayette Parish School System, Lafayette Parish School Board

          Court composed of Phyllis M. Keaty, John E. Conery, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges.

          PHYLLIS M. KEATY, JUDGE

         Plaintiff/Appellant, Dorothy Baheth, on behalf of her minor child, appeals the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant/Appellee, Lafayette Parish School Board. For the following reasons, the trial court's judgment is affirmed.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In this personal injury matter, the minor child, Sharntii "Darius" Baheth (Darius), allegedly sustained injuries on December 17, 2010, during a school-sponsored field trip to a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. Darius, who was thirteen years old at the time, was a student at Paul Breaux Middle School and was enrolled in an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) because of his medical diagnosis of autism. His IEP enabled him to participate in Community Based Instruction (CBI) activities with students without exceptionalities, which included participating in the field trip at issue in this case. The record reveals that as the teachers and students exited the bus to cross the street to the movie theater, Darius began running around outside. His teachers grabbed his hands and escorted him across the street during which time he attempted to run away. He then became physically violent. To prevent him from injuring himself or others, Darius's teachers placed him in a two-person restraint. Darius was thereafter given his medication and was able to watch the movie. Ms. Baheth alleges that Darius suffered injuries because of the incident.

         Ms. Baheth, on Darius's behalf, filed a Petition for Damages against the Lafayette Parish School Board (the Board) for "bodily injuries and damages" arising from the field trip. She alleged that the injuries occurred when restraining gear was placed on Darius. She also alleged that the teachers failed to timely administer his medication. The Board filed an answer and a Motion to Compel, which the trial court granted on May 28, 2014.

         The Board subsequently filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment, alleging that it was immune from suit based upon the Educational Opportunities for Students with Exceptionalities (EOSE), La.R.S. 17:1941-1947. Alternatively, the Board alleged that no duty was breached and that Darius was not injured during the field trip. Ms. Baheth filed an opposition memorandum. Following a hearing on April 3, 2017, and pursuant to a written judgment dated April 24, 2017, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Board, dismissing Ms. Baheth's suit with prejudice. Ms. Baheth appealed.

         On appeal, Ms. Baheth alleges the following assignments of error:

I. The trial court erred in not reviewing plaintiff-appellant's brief in opposition to summary judgment, prior to hearing, and ruled from the bench after declaring that he had not done so.
II. The trial court erred in finding no material issue of fact as the record of the hearing established multiple issues of material fact with regards to liability and damages.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "Appellate courts review summary judgments de novo under the same criteria that govern the district court's consideration of whether summary judgment is appropriate." Elliott v. Cont'l Cas. Co., 06-1505, p. 10 (La. 2/22/07), 949 So.2d 1247, 1253 (quoting Reynolds v. Select Props., Ltd., 93-1480 (La. 4/11/94), 634 So.2d 1180). "After an opportunity for adequate discovery, a motion for summary judgment shall be granted if the motion, memorandum, and supporting documents show that there is no genuine ...


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