Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Real Property Exception To Immunity Found Inapplicable in School Injury Case


In the case of Kilroy v. Owen J. Roberts School District, No. 2018-09778-TT (Jan. 11, 2021 Sommer, J.), the court granted a school district’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a premises liability case based upon an application of the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act, 42 Pa. C.S.A. §8541.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff alleged that the minor Plaintiff’s thumb was injured on a metal shelf while the minor was attempting to block a ball being thrown in a boy’s bathroom.

The Plaintiffs were attempting to rely upon the real property exception to defeat the claim of immunity asserted by the school.

After reviewing the current status of Pennsylvania law on whether a chattel, such as a shelf, is real property or personal property, the court noted that the shelf in question was attached to the wall with six (6) small screws. It was noted that the shelf could be removed with a simple screwdriver, an electric screwdriver, or a power drill in a matter of seconds or minutes depending on the apparatus used.

The court found that the shelf was intended to be easily removed for purposes of replacement without damaging the property itself.

It was also noted that there was no evidence presented that the bathroom had been physical altered to accommodate the metal shelf, or that the metal shelf had to remain in its location.

Based upon these findings, the could held that the shelf was personalty, and not a fixture. As such, the court found that the facts did not fall under the real property exception.  Accordingly, the court granted the school district summary judgment based upon the immunity provided by the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act.

 

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.


Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.”  Pennsylvania Law Weekly (July 20, 2021). 


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