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Dichiara v. Sanborn Regional School District

Supreme Court of New Hampshire

November 8, 2013

Steven P. Dichiara, Jr.
v.
Sanborn Regional School District & a

Argued September 18, 2013.

Rockingham.

Donahue, Tucker & Ciandella, PLLC, of Exeter ( Christopher T. Hilson on the brief and orally), for the plaintiff. [165 N.H. 695]

Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell, P.C., of Concord ( Samantha D. Elliot and Charles P. Bauer on the brief, and Ms. Elliot orally), for the defendants.

HICKS, J. DALIANIS, C.J., and CONBOY, LYNN and BASSETT, JJ., concurred.

OPINION

Page 226

Hicks, J.

The plaintiff, Stephen P. Dichiara, Jr., appeals an order of the Superior Court ( Wageling, J.) granting summary judgment

Page 227

to the defendants, Sanborn Regional School District (School District) and Robert Ficker, on the basis of municipal immunity under RSA 507-B:2 (2010). We affirm.

The following facts are taken from the trial court's order. On December 2, 2008, the plaintiff attended tryouts for Sanborn Regional High School's basketball team. Ficker is the basketball team's coach. At tryouts, the plaintiff participated in a " loose ball" drill, which requires two players to rise from a seated position and attempt to gain control of a loose basketball. During the drill, the plaintiff and the other participating player collided, causing substantial injury to the plaintiff's arm.

The plaintiff filed an action in superior court, alleging negligence on the part of both defendants, and respondeat superior liability of the School District. The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing, among other things, that they were entitled to statutory immunity under RSA chapter 507-B.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, ruling that the plain language of RSA 507-B:2 limits negligence claims against governmental units to those " arising out of ownership, occupation, maintenance or operation of all motor vehicles, and all premises," and finding that the plaintiff's injury did not arise out of the operation of the premises. This appeal followed.

On appeal, the plaintiff argues that the trial court misinterpreted RSA 507-B:2 when it ruled that a municipality is only liable for negligence arising out of the municipality's ownership, occupation, maintenance or operation of a motor vehicle or premises. Essentially, the plaintiff maintains that, under RSA 507-B:2, a governmental unit is liable for bodily injuries " caused by its fault or by fault attributable to it," regardless of any connection to a motor vehicle or premises. RSA 507-B:2. The plaintiff does not challenge, however, the trial ...


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