Preventable Suicide Attempt: $300,000

Type of Case – Greater Boston Negligence Attorneys – Failure to Protect Disabled Student
Settlement – $300,000.00


An eighteen year old disabled residential student of a non-profit school jumped approximately 30 feet from the roof of the school building in an apparent attempt to kill herself. The mission of the school was to provide educational services to adolescence and young adults who were challenged physically as well as by problems such as childhood abuse and mental illness. Prior to living at the school, our client was an inpatient at a local state mental hospital because she twice climbed on the roof of her home with the intention of jumping. On the day of accident, she became upset after interacting with other students and began screaming, hitting and otherwise acting out. The staff controlled her by using a one-to-one staff to student ratio. After about thirty minutes, staff believed that the student had calmed down. The staff member then agreed to take our client on a walk around the campus. As the two exited the school building, the student ran up a wide wooden set of stairs used as a fire escape, ducked under the railing and went onto the flat roof of the school. The student stood at the edge of the roof 30 feet in the air and stated that she was going to count to 60 and jump. The staff member, while positioned at the top of the fire escape, attempted to try to talk her down but without success. When the student finished her count, she said good-by and jumped feet first from the roof.

The student suffered multiple mid-back fractures from the fall. Because the spine fractures were unstable, she was transported to a teaching hospital in Boston where a neurosurgeon stabilized her mid-back with a titanium surgical mesh cage and held in place by a plate and screws.

The case settled at a mediation — a structured settlement conference — after we were able to show that school employees utterly failed to meet the requisite standard of care for treating and keeping safe a student with the propensity to try to hurt herself. The staff member assigned to our client was negligent because she let the student be more than an arm’s length away while escorting her. We also argued that the school was negligent because it failed to block access to the fire escape stairs from outside the building. The case settled for $300,000.00 present value. The client’s settlement was used to purchase an annuity to provide her a stream of income for the remainder of her life. The case was also significant for the fact that we were able to defeat the so-called “charitable immunity defense” which limits recovery by injured persons against schools and other Massachusetts non-profit organizations to only $20,000.00.

The Greater Boston personal injury attorneys at Krasnow, Keller, & Boris handle all personal injury claims and represent individuals, families and businesses throughout the Greater Boston region as well as all of Massachusetts. Our personal injury litigation attorneys serve the Boston Metrowest town of Framingham, and our attorneys serve adjacent communities including Ashland, Cambridge, Dedham, Dover, Hopkinton, Holliston, Lowell, Marlborough, Maynard, Medfield, Natick, Needham, Newton, Sherborn, Sudbury, Waltham, Wayland, Wellesley, Weston, Middlesex County and Worcester County.