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Student killed in school locker room wall collapse

As you may know, property owners in Michigan and elsewhere have a responsibility to construct and maintain their property in a manner that will not unreasonably endanger those individuals who are rightfully on the property. This includes everything from cleaning up a banana peel on the floor of produce aisle in a timely manner, to ensuring that a building has sufficient fire exits for all give all occupants a chance to escape in case of a fire.

Last week a cinder block wall in a high school locker room collapsed onto a 14-year-old student crushing him. The fatal accident occurred on Wednesday afternoon a few miles outside of Lansing. The investigation is ongoing and authorities are waiting the result of an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

According to local law enforcement officials, the death has been ruled an accident. Investigators were preparing to interview eyewitnesses of the collapse of the cinder block wall. A representative for the school district indicated that the wall was built about twenty years ago. A report on the incident from Reuters News indicates that the district alleges that it had no reason to believe that there were structural deficiencies in the building, but there was no mention of whether the school had policies or procedures to ensure that buildings in which student may be at risk were subject to regular maintenance and inspection to ensure the building's structural integrity.

There are activities in which there is a significant risk of injury to a child even in the absence of negligence. For a potentially dangerous activity such as varsity football, for example, a parent may assess the risk and choose whether or not they determine whether engaging in the activity is worth the risk of injury to their child. In this case the parents of this child had virtually no opportunity to keep their child safe, it seems like an accident like this should not happen unless something has gone terribly wrong.

Source: Reuters News "Cinder block wall collapse kills Michigan ninth grader," Oct. 27, 2011

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