Uhr v. East Greenbush Central School District

94 N.Y.2d 32, 720 N.E.2d 886, 698 N.Y.S.2d 609 (1999)

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Uhr v. East Greenbush Central School District

New York Court of Appeals
94 N.Y.2d 32, 720 N.E.2d 886, 698 N.Y.S.2d 609 (1999)

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Facts

A New York State statute required that school authorities examine students between ages eight and 16 for scoliosis at least once each school year. Scoliosis was a disease involving curvature of the spine. This statute was intended to promote early detection of the disease, which led to better treatment options. The screening statute expressly stated that schools would face no legal liability for their actions in conducting scoliosis screenings. If a school failed to discharge its statutory duties, the state’s commissioner of education could enforce those duties using administrative options. Emily Uhr (plaintiff) was a student in the East Greenbush Central School District (school) (defendant) in New York. The school screened Uhr for scoliosis in seventh grade, and the test came back negative. Despite the statutory requirement, the school did not screen Uhr during her eighth-grade year. When the school screened Uhr in ninth grade, the screening revealed that Uhr had a progressed form of scoliosis that required surgery. Uhr’s parents sued the school on her behalf for failing to screen Uhr during her eighth-grade year. The trial court ruled that Uhr did not have a private right of action, meaning Uhr did not have a legal right to sue to enforce the statute, and granted judgment for the school. The appellate division affirmed. Uhr appealed to New York’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rosenblatt, J.)

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