Earlier this month, a New York appellate court issued an interesting opinion involving a plaintiff’s late-filed case against a school district. In the case, Newcomb v. Middle Country School District, the court held that the plaintiff should have been allowed to file his claim after the initial deadline had expired because he had good reason for the late filing, and the defendant did not suffer substantial prejudice.
The plaintiff’s 16-year-old son was struck by a hit-and-run driver as he was crossing the street near a school. The driver was not immediately arrested, but the plaintiff did report the accident to the school board. After the driver’s subsequent arrest, the plaintiff attempted to obtain the police department’s criminal investigation file but was prevented from doing so because the case against the driver was still open.
Nine months after the accident, the police department’s file was turned over to the plaintiff. In the file were pictures of the accident scene. Specifically, there were pictures of a sign that may have obstructed a motorist’s view of pedestrians where the plaintiff’s son was struck. The sign was on school property, but it had been taken down in the time between the accident and the trial.