Law School Case Brief
Harrell v. Daniels - 499 So. 2d 482 (La. Ct. App. 1986)
In Louisiana, corporal punishment of students is permissible if reasonable in degree and administered by a teacher or school principal for disciplinary reasons. The implementation of corporal punishment is to be accomplished in accordance with rules adopted by the parish or city school board. Factors to be considered in determining whether a teacher's corporal punishment was reasonable are age and physical condition of student, seriousness of misconduct soliciting punishment, nature, and severity of punishment, attitude and past behavior of pupil and availability of less severe but equally effective means of discipline.
Plaintiff-appellant father Billy Joe Harrell filed an action for damages and medical expenses against defendant-appellees Bossier Parish School Board, teacher Betty Daniels and her liability insurer, the Horace Mann Insurance Company, as a result of the corporal punishment his son received from the teacher for his bad behavior. The trial court rejected Harrell’s claims upon finding the testimony of fellow teachers more credible than that of the son. The trial court held that the evidence did not establish the paddling was unreasonable or contributed to the boy's subsequent behavioral problems. The father appealed.
Did the trial court err, upon finding that the corporal punishment was not administered in an excessive and unreasonable manner, in dismissing plaintiff parent Harrell’s claim for damages due to his son's alleged injuries?
Affirming, the Court of Appeals of Louisiana held that there was substantial evidence to support the conclusion of the trial court that the paddling was imposed in accordance with regulation. The court ruled that the paddling was reasonable in degree and rendered for disciplinary reasons and imposed in accordance with the rules of the school board. The testimony of the other teachers supported the trial court's conclusion that the administrator's son needed psychological help long before he received the paddling from the teacher.
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