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Elledge v. Richland/Lexington School District Five

South Carolina Court of Appeals
534 S.E.2d 289 (2001)


Facts

After a light rain, Ginger Elledge, age 9, was walking across the monkey bars on her school’s playground when her foot slipped on a narrow bar, and she fell. Elledge’s leg became trapped between the bars, causing a serious fracture. Approximately three years prior to the incident, the school’s principal contracted with a playground-equipment sales representative to make safety recommendations regarding the use of the monkey bars. The representative, who was not an engineer, modified the structure by removing a bench running underneath the bars on which the children sat or laid and pulled themselves along the length of the bars. Tires were also installed at each end of the bars for mounting and dismounting, and children were encouraged to walk across from one end to the other. Neither handrails nor a non-slip surface was added to the modified monkey bars. Elledge’s mother, Christine (plaintiff), filed suit against Richland/Lexington School District Five (the School) (defendant) for negligence and gross negligence. Prior to trial, the School filed a motion in limine to exclude any testimony or evidence relating to the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s (CPSC) guidelines for playground safety or the American Society for Testing and Materials’ (ASTM) standards for playground equipment. The trial judge granted the motion. The jury held for the School. Elledge appealed, arguing that the trial judge erred in excluding the evidence of playground industry standards and wrongly instructed the jury.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Hearn, C.J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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