Rosanna Tomack, a former New York teacher’s aide, is suing a student from her Queens grammar school for running into her with an ice cream cone in the halls. The boy, Joseph Cicack, was eight years old at the time. He is now an eleven-year-old torts defendant.
Tomack, 62, insists that the kids were specifically told not to run for ice cream and that eight-year-old Joseph didn’t follow the rules. Imagine that. An eight-year-old boy ran for ice cream.
Tomack was injured by the fall and required surgery on her back. However, if the standard is a reasonable eight-year-old in the presence of ice cream, I (with for kids ten and younger) would volunteer as an expert. My conclusion (free of cost)? There is no such thing as a reasonable eight-year-old boy — particularly in the presence of ice cream.
Chakmakian said the suit was aimed at recovering damages from an insurance policy that covers his parents’ home.
Tomack’s lawyer, Edmond Chakmakian, insists that “It’s a legitimate case,” Chakmakian said. “It’s not silly.” In New York, an eight-year-old can be sued for torts.
Of course, that leaves the question of whether he should be sued by a teacher. Students have sued other students. However, absent a malicious or criminal attack, an eight-year-old should not be a lawsuit for acting his age.
What is particularly interesting is that some states have adopted immunity laws to bar parents from suing teachers, but the laws do not say anything about teachers suing students.
The case reminds me of an equally outrageous lawsuit by a police officer who slipped on a wet floor after parents pulled their near-death child from a swimming pool.
The use of the “walk don’t run” rule is reminiscent of the ruling in Vosburg v. Putney where a court found that an eleven-year-old boy could be held for battery even though he did not intend to cause an injury by kicking a classmate under the table. The court found that the violation of the rule (no play after recess ended) was sufficient since he intended to break the rule.
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Joseph’s mom, Terry, declined to comment.