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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ind. Courts - "Ind. Supreme Court reviews jury instruction in LaPorte child choking-death lawsuit"

Yesterday's oral argument before the Indiana Supreme Court in the case of LaPorte Community School Corporatation v. Maria Rosales is the subject of a story today by Dan Carden in the NWI Times. Some quotes:

The Indiana Supreme Court on Monday heard oral arguments parsing the meaning of "negligence" and debating whether the jury instruction in question implied the school was required to provide more than "reasonable and ordinary" care.

Juan Loera was eating lunch at Hailmann Elementary School on Sept. 12, 2006, when another child made a duck face out of Pringles potato chips causing Loera to laugh, choke on his food and die.

A LaPorte County jury awarded his mother, Maria Rosales, $5 million from LaPorte Community School Corp. -- reduced under state law to $500,000 -- saying the school was negligent for not having personnel trained and prepared to assist choking students.

But the Indiana Court of Appeals last year ordered a new trial, saying the jury based its verdict on a faulty instruction that implied the school was obligated to follow its emergency plan, when it was not legally required to do so.

Attorney Darla Brown, representing the school corporation, urged the Supreme Court to uphold the 2-1 ruling of the appeals court that the jury instruction was in error.

"This implies to the jury that the defendant had duties it didn't have," she said. "It suggests to the jury that some other standard -- other than ordinary and reasonable care -- should apply."

You may listen to Monday's oral argument here.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 21, 2011 10:21 AM
Posted to Upcoming Oral Arguments