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MUNICIPAL LAW: Appellate Court reverses trial court judgment, holding that expert testimony is needed to determine number of supervisors required for elementary school playground

A minor plaintiff sued the city, school board, and others for her injuries that occurred when she was assaulted by other students on her elementary school playground.

The trial court found in favor of the plaintiff and the defendants appealed, arguing, inter alia, that the trial court erred in finding, absent any expert testimony, that one student intern and three or four staff members was an insufficient number of supervisors for 400 students on the playground.

The Appellate Court agreed with the defendants, holding that as a matter of law, absent expert testimony, the trial court could not have properly found that the defendants breached their duty of care to the plaintiff because there was an insufficient number of supervisors at the time of plaintiff’s injury.  The standard of care regarding the number of supervisors needed in that situation was not common knowledge and thus the plaintiff was required to produce expert testimony to establish the standard of care and prove that the defendants’ conduct fell below that standard.

Because the plaintiff had not produced such expert testimony, the Appellate Court held that the trial court erred as a matter of law in holding for the plaintiff and the judgment was remanded with direction to render judgment for the defendants.

Osborn v. City of Waterbury, 181 Conn.App. 239 (2018)