Friday, March 18, 2022

Court Finds That Plaintiff's Claims Against College May Move Forward

 In the case of Baumbach v. Lafayette College, 2022 Pa. Super. 40 (Pa. Super. March 4, 2022 Panella, P.J. Dubow, J., and McCaffery, J.) (Op. by Dubow, J.), the court addressed whether a college owed a duty to a Plaintiff’s decedent who was struck and killed by a drunk driver while the student was walking along a roadway as she returned to the college from crew practice.

The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant college and its agents breached a duty of care owed to the Plaintiff’s decedent and also intentionally misrepresented safety threats posed to crew members walking along the road to and from practice.

The trial court had granted the college Defendants’ Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings after finding that the Plaintiff had failed to establish that the college Defendants owed any duty to the Plaintiff’s decedent. The trial court additionally found that the Plaintiffs’ decedent did not justifiably rely upon the college Defendants’ alleged representations regarding the safety of walking or running along the roadway in question.

On appeal, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed both trial court findings.

With regards to the duty of care, the Superior Court noted that a party may, through his or her affirmative act, assume a duty to exercise reasonable care in the performance of the conduct. In this matter, the court stated the Plaintiff’s Complaint alleged numerous affirmative actions taken by the college with respect to the safety of the college students at the crew practice facility. As such, the Pennsylvania Superior Court found that the Plaintiffs had alleged sufficient facts to establish a prima facie case that the college Defendants undertook to act for the Plaintiffs’ decedent’s safety.

The Superior Court also ruled that the Plaintiffs also alleged numerous facts to support their intentional misrepresentation claim. 

For example, the court noted that the Plaintiff had alleged that the coaches had misrepresented that the roadway was safe for the team members’ use as pedestrians, while also periodically advising team members to run single-file and to keep an eye out for cars. The Plaintiffs had alleged that the coaches made these representations either knowing that the statements were false or without adequate knowledge about the safety conditions along the roadway while allegedly professing to have such knowledge. 

The Plaintiffs additionally asserted that the coaches knew that there had been a prior fatal pedestrian accident on the same roadway of the vicinity of the boat house the summer before the Plaintiff’s decedent had enrolled at Lafayette College. 

For these reasons, and other reasons, the court found that the Plaintiff’s allegations that the college Defendants’ alleged intentional misrepresentations were properly stated by the Plaintiff to establish a sufficient prima facie claim that the decedent had justifiably relied upon the college Defendants’ representations regarding the safety of the roadway.

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

Source of image:  Photo by Run 4 FFWPU on

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.