SIMI VALLEY : Ruling Reversed in Suit Against Schools

An appeals court has reversed the decision of a trial judge who dismissed a lawsuit filed against the Simi Valley Unified School District by the parents of a girl who suffered permanent brain damage when she was hit by a car in a crosswalk.

In a 2-1 decision Thursday, the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Ventura ordered the lawsuit reinstated against the school district, declaring that the district "created a dangerous condition" when it left a gate open in the schoolyard fence next to the crosswalk.

The child, Jennifer Joyce, now 16, was struck by a car on May 11, 1989, while walking to Sequoia Junior High School where she was a student, according to the opinion. The parents' complaint alleged that despite a monitored crosswalk nearby, the school allowed the use of another dangerous crosswalk near a school fence gate.

"An open gate is a physical condition of property which can create a danger even though the gate and the fence to which it is attached are not in themselves dangerous or defective," the appellate opinion said.

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