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Murray v. Indianapolis Public Schools and Arlington Community High School

Supreme Court of Indiana

August 8, 2019

Katrina Murray and Aquila F. Flynn, as Co-Personal Representatives of the Estate of Jaylan T.R. Murray, Deceased (Appellants/Plaintiffs below)
v.
Indianapolis Public Schools and Arlington Community High School (Appellees/Defendants below)

          Argued: June 18, 2019

          Appeal from the Marion Superior Court No. 49D13-1703-CT-11107 The Honorable James A. Joven, Judge.

         On Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals No. 18A-CT-1955

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS KARL L. MULVANEY NANA QUAY-SMITH BINGHAM GREENEBAUM DOLL LLP INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA R.T. GREEN KELLIE C. CLARK BLACKBURN & GREEN INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES CAREN L. POLLACK ZACHARY J. STOCK POLLACK LAW FIRM INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

          ATTORNEYS FOR AMICUS CURIAE, EDUCATIONAL SERVICE CENTERS RISK FUNDING TRUST JONATHAN L. MAYES MARK A. WOHLFORD BOSE MCKINNEY & EVANS LLP INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

          OPINION

          David, Justice.

         A student of Arlington Community High School was tragically murdered after leaving school grounds. His estate brought suit against the school and the school corporation for negligence for failing to monitor and supervise him. The defendants sought summary judgment arguing that they are immune from suit pursuant to the Indiana Tort Claims Act and further, that they are not liable for damages because the student was contributorily negligent as he left the school to participate in some criminal act. The trial court granted summary judgment. Finding that the student was contributorily negligent, we affirm the trial court.[1]

         Facts and Procedural History

         Sixteen-year-old Jaylan Murray was shot and killed in February 2016, hours after he left the grounds of Arlington Community High School without permission. Jaylan, who lived with his father, was a frequent runaway who had a prior DCS file. A few days before he was murdered, he was reported missing, and on the night before, he committed a pharmacy robbery. On the day of his murder, he signed into school late, but then left early through an unmonitored school exit. Not much is known about the details of his murder and there is conflicting evidence about whether he left school to engage in a firearms deal or to buy marijuana.

         His estate brought suit against Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and Arlington Community High School for wrongful death, alleging that defendants were negligent for failing to properly supervise and monitor their students during school hours. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that it was immune pursuant to the Indiana Tort Claims Act (ITCA) and that Jaylan was contributorily negligent. The motion was granted (without detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law). A divided Court of Appeals reversed the trial court finding defendants were not entitled to immunity under ITCA and that there were issues of material fact regarding the contributory negligence claim. Murray et al. v. Indianapolis Public Sch. et. al., 116 N.E.3d 525, 535 (Ind.Ct.App. 2018). After their petition for rehearing was denied, defendants sought transfer which we granted. Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A).

         Standard of Review

         "When reviewing a summary judgment order, we stand in the shoes of the trial court." Campbell Hausfeld/Scott Fetzer Company v. Johnson, 109 N.E.3d 953, 955-56 (Ind. 2018) (citation omitted). Summary judgment is appropriate "if the designated evidentiary matter shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Id. at 956 (quoting Ind. Trial Rule 56(C)). Any ambiguity should be considered in the light most favorable to the non-moving party-here, the Estate. Goodwin v. Yeakle's Sports Bar and Grill, Inc., 62 N.E.3d 384, 386 (Ind. 2016). To shift the burden to the non-moving party, the party moving for summary judgment must make a prima facie showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id.

         Discussion ...


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