Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Determining if there is a special relationship between a municipal employer and a municipal employee


Determining if there is a special relationship between a municipal employer and a municipal employee
2015 NY Slip Op 00526, Appellate Division, Second Department


Sometimes there is a "special relationship" between a municipal employer and a municipal employee.

Citing Pelaez v Seide, 2 NY3d 186, the Appellate Division explained that a special relationship of a municipality to an individual can be formed in three ways: 

(1) when the municipality violates a statutory duty enacted for the benefit of a particular class of persons; 

(2) when it voluntarily assumes a duty that generates justifiable reliance by the person who benefits from the duty; or 

(3) when the municipality assumes positive direction and control in the face of a known, blatant and dangerous safety violation."

A New York City school teacher sued the City’s Department of Education seeking damages for personal injuries she alleged she had suffered as the result of an assault by a student while at school. The teacher contended that the Department “breached a duty of care” by failing to remove the student from classes at the school and by failing to protect her from the student.

The Department contended that there was no special relationship between it and the teacher and therefore, it did not owe her a duty of care.

Supreme Court granted the District’s motion for summary judgement and the teacher appealed.

The Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court’s ruling noting that the District had established, prima facie, its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by demonstrating that it had not voluntarily assume a duty toward the teacher.

The court held that the teacher “failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether a special relationship was formed by the Department’s voluntary assumption of a duty that generated her “justifiable reliance.” In addition, said the Appellate Division, the teacher did not allege that a special relationship was formed because the Department of Education had violated any statutory duty or “assumed positive direction and control in the face of a known, blatant, and dangerous safety violation.”



The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2015/2015_00526.htm

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Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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