In Kinchen v. Miller, 2014-1207 (La. App. 1 Cir. 6/5/15), — So.3d —, 2015 WL 3545622, the plaintiff was injured while on a school-sponsored band trip to a music festival in Tennessee. While on the trip, a number of students purchased novelty pellet guns. Apparently, the school permitted students to purchase weapons, including knives, swords and the subject novelty guns, as long as those weapons were delivered to a chaperone.
Many of the students failed to follow the school’s rules, taking the novelty guns back to their motel rooms for a “pellet gun battle.” Unsurprisingly, a student was injured when a plastic pellet struck his eye. Under these circumstances, the trial court found that the school board breached its duty of reasonable supervision and ordered it to pay all damages awarded to plaintiff.
Citing Watson v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Ins. Co., 469 So.2d 967 (La. 1985), the Kinchen court found the trial court’s decision was improper in light of Louisiana law regarding comparative fault. Under Watson, “both the nature of the conduct of each party at fault and the extent of the causal relation between the conduct and the damages claimed should be considered” to allocate the degree of fault among all parties involved in an accident. Id. at 974. Although the school breached its duty of supervision, it was improper to allocate all fault to the school board- especially when the students’ decision to engage in a pellet gun battle was willful, deliberate and in violation of school rules.
Under these facts, fault was re-allocated with 60% to the school board, 10% to the plaintiff and 30% to the student who shot him in the eye.