Study Abroad; Immigration & International Activities
Munn v. Hotchkiss School (Conn. Aug. 11, 2017)
Plaintiff, a student at The Hotchkiss School, contracted tick-borne encephalitis while studying abroad in China. She sued Hotchkiss and a jury found the institution negligent. The jury awarded Plaintiff $41.5 million in damages, which included $31.5 million in non-economic damages. Hotchkiss appealed, arguing that it did not have a legal duty to protect students against tick-borne encephalitis and that the jury award was excessive. The Second Circuit found that there was enough evidence to indicate that Plaintiff’s illness was foreseeable but certified the two remaining issues to the Connecticut Supreme Court. Here, the Connecticut Supreme Court held that Connecticut public policy "supports the imposition of a duty" on schools in custody of minor children "to warn about or protect students against the foreseeable risk of serious insect-borne disease" during study abroad trips. In regard to the jury award, the court found that it "fell within the necessarily uncertain limits of just damages.