KABRISHA ROBINSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF HER MINOR DAUGHTER, DERI'NIYA HALBERT
THE ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH SCHOOL BOARD
APPEAL FROM THE FORTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 69, 490,
DIVISION "A" HONORABLE MADELINE JASMINE, JUDGE
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, KABRISHA ROBINSON,
INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF HER MINOR DAUGHTER,
DERI'NIYA HALBERT George B. Recile, Barry W. Sartin, Jr.,
Walter R. Woodruff, Jr.
composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Stephen J.
Windhorst, and Hans J. Liljeberg.
FREDERICKA HOMBERG WICKER JUDGE.
instant matter, involving a claim of negligent supervision of
a kindergartner who fractured her arm during recess on the
playground of Fifth Ward Elementary School, is before us on
appeal of the June 1, 2018 judgment granting St. John the
Baptist Parish School Board's (the School Board)
Motion for Involuntary Dismissal against appellant,
Kabrisha Robinson, and dismissing appellant's suit with
prejudice. Finding that the trial court erred in granting the
School Board's motion, we reverse the trial court's
June 1, 2018 judgment and remand this matter for further
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
December 1, 2015, Deri'Niya Halbert, a kindergartner at
Fifth Ward Elementary School in Reserve, Louisiana, fractured
her left arm during recess after being pushed by a classmate
from a slide platform. Deri'Niya was then taken to the school
nurse by the teacher on duty during recess, Chasity
Henderson.Deri'Niya's mother - Kabrisha
Robinson, appellant - arrived at the school and took her
daughter to the hospital where Deri'Niya was diagnosed
with a closed displaced fracture of the lateral condyle of
the left humerus. Deri'Niya's arm was placed in a
cast and thereafter she underwent two surgeries.
17, 2016, appellant individually and on behalf of her minor
daughter, Deri'Niya, filed a Petition for
Damages against the School Board. In her petition,
appellant alleged that the School Board was vicariously
liable for Deri'Niya's injuries caused by its
inadequate and negligent supervision of Deri'Niya and the
other kindergarten students during recess.
May 24, 2018 bench trial, during appellant's
case-in-chief, appellant called Kendria Spears, principal of
Fifth Ward Elementary at the time of the
incident. Ms. Spears testified that on the date of
the incident, Chasity Henderson was the teacher on duty and
that there were two classes, totaling forty-four students, on
the playground during recess. She further testified as to her
limited recollection of the incident, as it was relayed to
her by the school nurse, Beth Roussell. Ms. Spears also
testified as to the school's procedure of having two to
three teachers supervising students during recess. However,
Ms. Spears was unsure of the exact number of teachers on duty
at recess on the date of the incident.
also called Drenean Brown who became the principal of Fifth
Ward Elementary in the year following the incident. Ms. Brown
provided testimony regarding her knowledge of the incident
and the procedures she implemented for monitoring the
school's playground soon after she became principal.
appellant testified regarding the playground incident as
relayed to her by her daughter, Deri'Niya, at the time of
the incident. Appellant testified that on the date of
the incident, she received a call from the school nurse
informing her that five-year-old Deri'Niya "had an
accident on the playground." Appellant testified that
she went to the school to pick up Deri'Niya to take her
to the hospital. The hospital physicians told appellant that
Deri'Niya's injury would require surgery. Thereafter,
Deri'Niya underwent two surgeries. The first surgery
occurred in December of 2015, during which surgeons placed a
screw in Deri'Niya's arm. The second surgery,
occurring in July of the following year, removed the screw.
the incident, appellant testified that Deri'Niya was
playing a game with another student on top of the
"platform on the slide" when the student wanted
Deri'Niya to "hurry up and go down the slide, so she
pushed her."According to appellant, the platform on
which the students played is four feet wide and six feet
high. She further testified that while Ms. Henderson was
under the breezeway, about fifteen to twenty feet away from
the slide, there were more than six students on the slide
platform at the time that Deri'Niya fell off of the top,
that Ms. Henderson was the only teacher on the playground at
the time of the incident, and that Ms. Henderson was using
her cellular phone when the accident occurred.
also introduced into evidence the written stipulations of the
parties, the discovery responses of the School Board,
Deri'Niya's medical records, the transcripts of the
deposition testimony of Kendria Spears and Drenean Brown, the
Student Accident Report dated December 1, 2015, and photos of
close of appellant's case-in-chief, the School Board
moved for a directed verdict under La. C.C.P. art. 1672,
arguing that appellant failed to meet her burden of proof to
establish a prima facie case of negligent supervision as set
forth in Carter v. East St. John Elementary, 12-174
(La.App. 5 Cir. 11/13/12), 105 So.3d 856. Specifically, the
School Board argued that appellant failed to present evidence
demonstrating that the teacher to student ratio and alleged
lack of supervision at recess caused the accident. The trial
court, finding that appellant failed to meet her burden of
proof as set forth in Carter, supra,
granted the School Board's Motion for Involuntary
Dismissal on June 1, 2018, and dismissed appellant's
case with prejudice. It is from this judgment that appellant
filed a timely appeal.
nonjury case, the defendant may move for a dismissal of the
action against him/her after the close of the plaintiff's
case. Dileo v. Harry, 17-240 (La.App. 5 Cir.
12/13/17), 238 So.3d 549, 556, citing La. C.C.P. art.
1672(B). The appropriate standard in determining whether an
involuntary dismissal should be granted is whether the
plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence in his
case-in-chief to establish his claim by a preponderance of
the evidence. Jackson v. Morton, 17-194 (La.App. 5
Cir. 11/15/17), 232 So.3d 685, 687, citing Machado v.
Backer Concrete Constr., 13-273 (La.App. 5 Cir.
10/30/13), 128 So.3d 477, 481 (internal cite omitted). An
appellate court may not reserve a ruling on a motion for
involuntary dismissal, unless it is manifestly erroneous or
clearly wrong. Id.
sole assignment of error on appeal, appellant avers that the
trial court committed manifest error in granting the School
Board's motion for involuntary dismissal based on the
trial court's determination that it was constrained to do
so by this Court's ruling in Carter,
supra. In support of her assignment, appellant sets
forth a two-part argument wherein she first argues that the
present matter is materially distinguishable and beyond
Carter's limited reach; and second, appellant argues
that through the presentation of evidence and material facts,
she met her burden of proof under Carter to
establish a claim against the School Board for failure to
adequately supervise the safety of its students.
following reasons, we find that the trial court committed
manifest error in granting the School Board's motion for
involuntary dismissal. First, Carter is factually
distinguishable from the present case. Second, we find that
appellant presented sufficient evidence in her case-in-chief
to establish her claim by a preponderance of the evidence
that (1) the School Board, its agents, or teachers were
negligent in providing supervision; (2) there exists a causal
connection between the lack of supervision and the accident;
and (3) the risk of unreasonable injury was foreseeable,
constructively or actually known, and preventable if a
requisite degree of supervision had been exercised.
the present case from Carter
oral reasons for judgment, the trial court compared the facts
presented in Carter with the present case, giving
particular focus on this Court's discussion in
Carter regarding the student to ...