New Cases and Developments

NACUA's Legal Resources staff summarizes current higher education cases and developments and provides the full text of selected cases to members. New cases and developments are archived here for up to 12 months.  Cases provided by Fastcase, Inc.

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Study Abroad; Immigration & International Activities

Munn v. Hotchkiss (2nd Cir. Feb. 6, 2018)

Summary Order affirming the district court’s judgment. A jury found Defendant negligent in conducting its study abroad program after Plaintiff contracted tick-borne encephalitis while on a study abroad trip in China. Reviewing Defendant’s remaining arguments following the Connecticut Supreme Court’s response to two certified questions—concerning the duty Defendant owed to Plaintiff in conducting its study abroad program and the availability of remittitur for the jury’s award of $41.5 million—the court found Defendant’s remaining arguments without merit. Specifically, the court found no abuse of discretion in the district court’s decision to allow Plaintiff’s expert witness to testify while denying testimony from Defendant’s expert, no prejudicial error in the use of jury instructions on foreseeability taken from Connecticut Supreme Court precedent, no error in the district court’s exclusion of a parental waiver from liability since the waiver excluded conduct caused solely by Defendant’s negligence, and sufficient evidence to support the jury’s conclusion that Plaintiff was bitten while walking in a forested area of China.

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.