Fifty-five children in Florida are being questioned about an incident with a public school bus driver, who allegedly stopped their bus on a train track and threatened to leave the children there if they did not start to behave — as a train approached. The driver, who had a child on the bus, reportedly lost her temper over misbehaving kids and decided to use the classic “behave-or-I-will-have-a-train-crush-you” parental technique.
Children told their parents that they frantically calls on surrounding cars to help them as they stayed parked on the tracks as a train approached. Notably, according to the kids, she said that she would take her own kid off before leaving them. Ahhh, maternal instinct.
It is a case ripe for an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against the school district as well as assault and negligence. The school will obviously argue that the use of trains to threaten children with crushing deaths is a violation of policy and practices. As such, they could challenge the use of respondeat superior. However, the driver was within her scope of employment in driving the bus. This type of intentional tort will often cut off vicarious liability but not always. Even then, the school would face straight negligence in hiring, training and supervision.
The buses have video recordings so the matter should be easy to resolve once the tape is reviewed.
Of course, parents can now use the “be-good-or-I-will-put-you-on-a-school-bus-with-a-crazy-driver” threat on their own children.
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