Washington Case Law Update: School District May Owe Duty to Student’s Parents for Negligent Hiring, Retention, Supervision, and Training

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Washington Case Law Update: School District May Owe Duty to Student’s Parents for Negligent Hiring, Retention, Supervision, and Training

From the Desk of Thomas McCurdy: An employer has a duty to prevent its employee from endangering others and will be liable under negligent hiring, retention, supervision, and training theories when the employer knows or has reason to know the employee presented a risk of danger to others.  In this case, the Washington Court of Appeals analyzed who is owed this duty.  The Court determined that because a school district owes a duty to foreseeable victims of an employee’s misconduct under those theories, a parent of a student could conceivably be a foreseeable victim.

Claims Pointer: In this case arising out of a sexual relationship between a minor student and a school security guard, the Washington Court of Appeals analyzed whether a student’s parent could pursue her own claims against the school district.  The issue was whether a parent could be a foreseeable victim of an employee’s misconduct.  The court determined that a parent could conceivably be a foreseeable victim, and because the issue was fact-based, dismissal of the negligent hiring, retention, supervision, and training claims was inappropriate.  The case establishes a foundation for parents to pursue damages for harm to their relationship with their child based on theories of negligent hiring, retention, supervision, and training, provided they can establish they are foreseeable victims of an employee’s misconduct.

Evans v. Tacoma School District No. 10, No. 47612-6-II, Washington Court of Appeals (July 12, 2016)

Jesse Brent (Brent), a security guard for Tacoma School District 10 (the District), allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship with a minor student, JM.  Angela Evans (Evans), JM’s mother, brought multiple claims against the District to recover her own damages rather than JM’s damages—JM was not included as a plaintiff, and Brent was...

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