This is the loud message from the Irish Courts, who recently rejected a claim for damages brought against a Dublin school arising out of a schoolyard chasing accident.
That’s right, schoolyard chasing is now the basis for a lawsuit! And what’s more, the lawsuit was taken by a six-year-old girl.
Through her mother, six-year-old pupil Veronika Trjasunova sued her school for negligence following an injury she suffered in a game of chasing in 2010. She fell in her schoolyard and broke her arm against the ground.
She claimed the school should have foreseen her injury and stopped the game of chasing before she fell. She sought damages of €38,000.
Between 100 to 150 children were running around the schoolyard that day. A healthy and happy vista. In court, the girl’s legal team claimed there was inadequate staff numbers to supervise the play and that consequentially staff were unable to stop the game of chasing and prevent Veronika’s injury. Lawyers for the school denied negligence and denied the allegation that the staff had failed in exercising care and supervision.
In court, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke found no liability on the part of the school and rejected the claim.
“She was engaged in a game of chase pure and simple and, while it is most regrettable that she became unbalanced and fell, this was simply an old-fashioned accident and I fail to see any liability on the part of the school for that accident,” Judge Groarke said.
If the claim succeeded and chasing was banned, what would replace it? 150 pupils locked indoors on their phones for lunch? – a depressing vista. And not necessarily easily supervised.
Judge Groarke said banning children from chasing one another in a schoolyard would be physically impossible and added he could not accept the proposition that it should be banned throughout the country. He said no responsible parent would have prohibited the game of chase that day.
It’s arguably neglectful parenting to prohibit a child from schoolyard chasing. It’s part of growing up! A schoolyard is a place of exercise, laughter and fun. A schoolyard without chasing is simply unimaginable and thankfully the Irish Courts have said as much.
In an ever increasingly litigious culture however, it appears even the ‘most fun and innocent’ of activities are coming under threat.
“She was engaged in a game of chase pure and simple and, while it is most regrettable that she became unbalanced and fell, this was simply an old fashioned accident and I fail to see any liability on the part of the school for that accident,”