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Thursday 19 October 2017

'Schoolyard games of chase can't be banned', judge rules as girl loses €38k injury case

Natalija Saveljeva
Natalija Saveljeva

Games of chase in schoolyards throughout the country could not be prohibited, the President of the Circuit Civil Court, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, has ruled.

"I just cannot accept the proposition that they should," he told barrister Adrianne Fields, who successfully defended a €38,000 damages claim taken against a school on behalf of a six-year-old pupil who suffered a broken arm.

Veronika Trjasunova, now aged 13, sued Guardian Angels National School, Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin, through her mother, Natalija Saveljeva.

Negligent

She had sued the school on the basis that its staff had been negligent in having failed to stop a game of chase, in which Veronika was engaged during a lunch break in the hard- surfaced schoolyard in April 2010.

Ms Fields had lodged a full defence denying negligence or breach of duty by the school.

She told the court that the allegation that staff had failed in the exercise of care and supervision was specifically denied.

The judge heard that Veronika had been taking part in a game of chase with other children and had fallen, breaking her left arm.

Other children had fallen on top of her following her fall.

Veronika's legal team had alleged the school did not have adequate numbers of staff in the schoolyard to supervise between 100 and 150 children engaged in different play activities and had failed to intervene and stop the game.

The judge, dismissing the claim against the school, said it was physically impossible to stop young children chasing one another in a schoolyard.

Veronika had been engaged in the game with other children and, when she fell, these other children had fallen on top of her.

Falling to the ground had not been part of the game.

Regrettable

"She was engaged in a game of chase, pure and simple," the judge said.

"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."

Dismissing Veronika's claim, the judge said he believed that no prudent, responsible and reasonable parent would have prohibited the game of chase that had been taking place in the schoolyard on the day in question.

The school did not seek an order for costs against the girl's mother.

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