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KENNETH R. HOUSTON v. CENTRAL BUCKS SCHOOL AUTHORITY (08/22/88)

decided: August 22, 1988.

KENNETH R. HOUSTON, JR., A MINOR, BY NANCY AND KENNETH HOUSTON, SR., HIS PARENTS AND NATURAL GUARDIANS, AND KENNETH R. HOUSTON, SR. AND NANCY HOUSTON, INDIVIDUALLY, APPELLANTS
v.
CENTRAL BUCKS SCHOOL AUTHORITY, IONA S. PURVIN AND INTERMEDIATE UNIT NO. 22, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in the case of Kenneth R. Houston, Jr., a minor, by Nancy and Kenneth R. Houston, Sr., his parents and natural guardians, and Kenneth R. Houston, Sr., and Nancy Houston, individually v. Central Bucks School Authority, Iona S. Purvin and Intermediate Unit No. 22, No. 86-2590, dated July 16, 1987.

COUNSEL

Linda K. Caracappa, Harris and Harris, for appellants.

Christine M. Mooney, with her, Charles W. Craven, Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman and Goggin, for appellees, Central Bucks School Authority and Iona S. Purvin.

George F. Dale, Dale & Korolishin, for appellee, Intermediate Unit No. 22.

Judges Craig, Barry and Smith, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 119 Pa. Commw. Page 49]

Kenneth R. Houston, Jr., a minor, and his parents, Kenneth R. Houston, Sr. and Nancy Houston, appeal an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County granting summary judgment to defendants Central Bucks School Authority, Intermediate Unit No. 22 and Iona S. Purvin in a suit for personal injuries of the minor. The issue is whether governmental immunity is inapplicable on the ground that the injuries resulted from

[ 119 Pa. Commw. Page 50]

    a dangerous condition of the school property. We affirm Judge Biehn's decision.

As plaintiffs, the Houstons alleged the following in their complaint: Kenny, a physically-handicapped child afflicted with cerebral palsy, began attending the Linden Elementary School in September 1984. On April 29, 1985, while he was leaving the school building under the supervision of classroom aide Iona S. Purvin, Kenny fell backward and struck his head on the concrete sidewalk. Kenny sustained spinal cord injuries resulting in permanent paralysis and respiratory disability.

The trial court aptly summarized the remaining allegations in the plaintiffs' complaint:

Plaintiffs allege that Central Bucks School Authority (1) did not exercise reasonable care and diligence in the selection and training of its aides; (2) carelessly and negligently failed to supply proper supervision of the minor Plaintiff and failed to maintain its real property in a safe condition and; (3) carelessly and negligently allowed a dangerous condition of real property, streets and/or sidewalks within its care, custody and control to exist, especially as to the minor Plaintiff.

As to Defendant Intermediate Unit No. 22, Plaintiffs allege that it began coordinating the educational services for the minor Plaintiff in December, 1979.

According to the Plaintiffs, this Defendant was negligent in recommending the transfer of the minor Plaintiff from a specially-equipped school. Plaintiffs contend that the placement of the minor Plaintiff at the Linden Elementary School was premature and inaccurate in view of the school's inability to provide for the special

[ 119 Pa. Commw. Page 51]

    needs of the minor Plaintiff and, therefore, created a dangerous condition of real property under the control of Intermediate Unit No. 22. Plaintiffs also allege that Iona Purvin did not exercise reasonable care and diligence in the performance of her duties involving the minor Plaintiff.

All three defendants raised the affirmative defense of governmental immunity in their motions for summary judgment. The trial court held that the Houstons' claim did not fall under any of the specific exceptions to immunity in section 8542(b) of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa. C.S. ยง 8542(b). The trial judge concluded that the Houstons' allegations amounted to no more than "a claim for ...


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