Case details

School knew allowing student to walk home was dangerous: suit




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

brain, traumatic brain injury
On Feb. 3, 2017, plaintiff Fabian Sanchez, 11, a fifth grade student, was allowed to walk home alone from Puesta del Sol Elementary School, in Victorville, even though he was supposed to be bused home, pursuant to his individualized education program. As he attempted to cross Village Drive, near the intersection with Puesta del Sol Drive, Fabian was struck by a vehicle operated by Raul Martinez. Fabian sustained head . Maria Sanchez, acting as Fabian’s guardian ad litem, sued Martinez; Martinez’s employer, FCL & Associates Inc.; FCL & Associates’ parent entity, Century 21 Real Estate LLC; the maintainer of the intersection, the city of Victorville; and the operator of Puesta del Sol Elementary School, the Victor Elementary School District. Sanchez alleged that Martinez was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that FCL & Associates and Century 21 were vicariously liable for Martinez’s actions. Sanchez also alleged that Village Drive was dangerous and that the city was negligent for the dangerous condition of public property. In addition, she alleged that the school district was negligent for allowing Fabian to walk home alone, in violation of the mandatory duty imposed by Fabian’s individualized education program and Education Code § 44808. The county of San Bernardino, the state of California and five individuals were also named as defendants, but they were ultimately dismissed from the case. In addition, the city agreed to settle for $25,000, Martinez’s insurer agreed to settle for $50,000 and Century 21’s insurer agreed to settle for $140,000. As a result, FCL & Associates and the settling defendants were dismissed from the case prior to trial, and the matter proceeded to a bifurcated bench trial against Victor Elementary School District only. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that after the school district reviewed Fabian, it established an individualized education program for Fabian and determined that Fabian needed “curb-to-curb bus transportation” to ensure that he safely made it to and from school each day. Counsel also contended that the school district knew that allowing Fabian to walk home alone was dangerous. However, plaintiff’s counsel asserted that, on the day of the incident, the school district did not allow Fabian to take a school bus home, forcing him to walk across the dangerous road where the collision occurred. The school district’s counsel asserted that Fabian and Sanchez did not want Fabian to take the school bus home and, instead, elected to have the child walk home or be picked up by a parent. Counsel also asserted that Fabian darted out into the middle of the street, causing the collision, making Fabian and his mother negligent for the accident. The school district’s counsel contended that if Fabian wanted to take the bus, he could have, but that Fabian and his mother did not want that and that if Fabian or Sanchez had a disagreement over Fabian’s individualized education program, Fabian and Sanchez were first required to conduct a due process hearing under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act., The bench trial was bifurcated. Damages were not before the court. Fabian sustained blunt force trauma to his head. He was taken to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a severe traumatic brain injury. Plaintiff’s counsel presented a life care plan that included a claim that Fabian requires 24/7 care.
Superior Court of San Bernardino County, San Bernardino, CA

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