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M.M. and Thomas Moore v. Fargo Public School

April 10, 2012

M.M. AND THOMAS MOORE, PLAINTIFFS
THOMAS MOORE,
APPELLANT
v.
FARGO PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1 AND EUGENIA HART,
DEFENDANTS FARGO PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1,
APPELLEE



Appeal from the District Court of Cass County, East Central Judicial District, the Honorable Steven L. Marquart, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandstrom, Justice.

N.D. Supreme CourtM.M.

v.

Fargo Public School Dist. #1, 2012 ND 79

This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents]

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AFFIRMED.

Opinion of the Court by Sandstrom, Justice.

[¶1] Thomas Moore appeals from a judgment dismissing his claim for medical expenses incurred by his son, M.M., in their personal injury action against Fargo Public School District No. 1 and Eugenia Hart. Because Moore's claim for past economic damages derives from M.M.'s injuries, and M.M. was denied recovery under our modified comparative fault laws, we conclude the district court correctly dismissed Moore's claim for medical expenses. We affirm the judgment.

I

[¶2] In May 2004, M.M., a 15-year-old student at Discovery Middle School in Fargo, was seriously injured while practicing a bike stunt in the school auditorium in preparation for '60s Day, part of the curriculum for Hart's history class. Moore and M.M. brought a personal injury action against the District and Hart. The district court dismissed the action against the District as a matter of law, and a jury returned a verdict in favor of Hart. In M.M. v. Fargo Pub. Sch. Dist. No. 1, 2010 ND 102, ¶¶ 1, 19, 22, 28, 783 N.W.2d 806, we concluded the court erred in ruling the recreational use immunity statutes barred the action against the District and erred in excluding certain evidence from the jury in the action against Hart, and we reversed and remanded for a new trial.

[¶3] On remand, Hart settled, and the case was tried to the jury only against the District. At the close of the evidence, the district court rejected the District's request to include a line on the special verdict form for apportioning fault to Moore, concluding there was no evidence from which a jury could find Moore was at fault. The jury returned a verdict allocating 30 percent fault to "Eugenia Hart and any other employee of the Fargo Public School District" and 70 percent fault to M.M. The jury awarded Moore $285,000 for past economic damages based on M.M.'s medical expenses incurred while he was a minor. Because M.M.'s fault was greater than the fault of the District, the court entered judgment dismissing the action and awarding costs in favor of the District. The court also denied Moore's request to have judgment entered in his favor for $85,500, representing 30 percent of the $285,000 awarded by the jury for M.M.'s past medical expenses. Following the majority rule, the court concluded "a child's negligence should be considered in determining the extent of a parent's recovery against a third party for medical expenses paid."

[¶4] The district court had jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. VI, § 8, and N.D.C.C. § 27-05-06. Moore's appeal was timely under N.D.R.App.P. 4(a). This Court has jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. ...


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