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Anderson v. Anoka Hennepin Independent School District 11

January 28, 2003

EDWARD J. ANDERSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PARENT AND NATURAL GUARDIAN OF TREVOR ANDERSON, A MINOR, RESPONDENT,
v.
ANOKA HENNEPIN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT 11, ET AL., APPELLANTS.



Anoka County District Court File No. CX019265

Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge, Anderson, Judge, and Wright, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. An instructor's determination of how best to teach students woodworking safety is not a decision entitled to protection under the doctrine of statutory immunity.

2. Instruction on safety techniques with woodworking machinery is a ministerial act not entitled to common-law official immunity.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: G. Barry Anderson, Judge

Affirmed

OPINION

Respondent's son was injured when he reached into a table saw to remove a loose piece of scrap wood in a high-school woodworking class. At the time of the injury, respondent's son was operating the saw without a blade guard, as his teacher, Paul Peterson, had instructed him. Respondent sued Anoka-Hennepin Independent School District 11 (the district) and Paul Peterson (Peterson) (collectively, appellants) for negligence. Appellants moved for summary judgment, claiming statutory, official, and vicarious official immunity. The district court denied the motion for summary judgment on all grounds. Appellants argue that: (1) the district is immune under Minn. Stat. §á466.03, subd. 6 (2002); (2) Peterson is entitled to common-law official immunity; and (3) the district is entitled to vicarious common-law official immunity. Because we conclude that appellants have failed to demonstrate that statutory, official, or vicarious official immunity applies, we affirm.

FACTS

On May 16, 2000, 16-year-old Trevor Anderson reached into a table saw as he was cutting one and one-half-inch-wide strips of wood to be used in the construction of a TV/VCR cabinet and amputated his left index finger at the first knuckle. The accident occurred during appellant Paul Peterson's Woods II shop class at Coon Rapids Senior High School. The table saw was equipped with an aftermarket blade guard, but Anderson did not use the guard while cutting the strips because Peterson had instructed the class to put the guard up when ripping*fn1 strips of wood smaller than four inches. Anderson was injured when he reached into the saw's blade area to remove a loose piece of wood.

Respondent Trevor Anderson's father filed suit on his son's behalf, alleging that the district and Peterson negligently failed to provide a safe environment and negligently failed to supervise Trevor Anderson. Appellants filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that either statutory immunity under Minn. Stat. § 466.03, subd. 6, or common-law official immunity shields the district and Peterson from liability. The district court denied appellants' motion for summary judgment, and this appeal followed.

ISSUES

I. Did the district court err by concluding that appellant school district was not ...


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