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Historic Public Health and Communicable Disease Cases

Bang v. Independent School District No. 27, 225 N.W. 449 (Minn. 1929).

(Tuberculosis, Negligence, Government Liability)

Ms. Bang was employed at Maple Hill School from October of 1925 to November of 1925, when she took a position elsewhere. In 1926 she learned that she had tuberculosis. Ms. Bang's predecessor at Maple Hill also had tuberculosis. She was asked to leave her position because she was contagious. The school did not disinfect the classroom before Ms. Bang began using the classroom. Because of this, Ms. Bang contracted tuberculosis. Ms. Bang brought suit against the district. The Supreme Court of Minnesota found that the school district may have been negligent, but that since it is a quasi public organization and a government agency and because of this "(a) school district in the exercise of its government functions is not liable for negligence unless liability is imposed by statute." The court outlines a long line of cases from its jurisdiction as well as others that support this holding. Ms. Bang claims that the statute G.S. 1923 (1 Mason, 1927) s 3098, which provides that an individual may sue a school district "for an injury to the rights of the plaintiff arising from some act or omission," provides her with a way to recover from the district for their negligence in not properly cleaning the school before she began her employment. The court, however, rejects this contention. Other cases that have interpreted this statute have found that the legislature did not intend to change the rule of non-liability for a school district. The court also noted that the legislature has provided for compensation for accidental injury to employees from school districts and other municipal bodies in G.S. 1923 (1 Mason, 1927) s 4328(d). Because of this the court affirmed the lower court's directed verdict in favor of the school district.

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