Skip to main content
Unpublished Paper
THE TORT OF NEGLIGENCE OR THE STATE-CREATED DANGER: TWO AVENUES FOR SCHOOL LIABILITY IN THE CASE OF THE INJURED STUDENT INFORMANT
ExpressO (2008)
  • Michele H Berger, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Abstract

Schools use students as the watchdogs of the school to report to authorities about drugs and weapons possession. There is a lack of liability assigned to schools for placing students in this inherently dangerous situation. If it is absolutely necessary for high schools to use students as informants, courts should charge schools with an affirmative duty to protect student informants.

Where there is a duty, there is the potential to breach that duty, thus exposing the school to liability for negligence. So long as that breach of a duty causes an injury to the plaintiff through cause in fact, proximate cause, or the state-created danger a student can successfully assert a claim for negligence. Plaintiffs assert negligence claims through showing the existence of a duty on the part of the defendant to protect the plaintiff, a breach of that duty, and a showing that the defendants’ breach was either the cause in fact or the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury.

Additionally, school districts should be held liable for using students as informants because the use of student informants is a state-created danger. When state actors knowingly place a student in a perilous situation, they have presented themselves with a ‘state-created danger’ liability. Courts acknowledge being an informant places the person in danger, therefore it follows that encouraging and requesting students to act as informants is precisely a state-created danger. Parents and students can assert a claim in federal court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivation of rights secured under the Constitution when that deprivation results in injury. The asserted claim comes under the Fourteenth Amendment as a violation of the student’s due process rights and their liberty interest in the right to personal security.

Students have suffered both physical and verbal abuse because other students believed they were informants. Due to the highly dangerous nature of being an informant, when a school takes the chance with a student’s safety through utilizing him or her as an informant, the school should face liability in making that dangerous choice.

Keywords
  • Student Informant,
  • School Liability,
  • State-Created Danger
Disciplines
Publication Date
August 5, 2008
Citation Information
Michele H Berger. "THE TORT OF NEGLIGENCE OR THE STATE-CREATED DANGER: TWO AVENUES FOR SCHOOL LIABILITY IN THE CASE OF THE INJURED STUDENT INFORMANT" ExpressO (2008)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/michele_berger/1/