This case recently turned up in the New York Law Journal; nineteen-year-old Julie Katz, a student at the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism in New York, won the right to sue her synagogue for a knee injury which worsened after a study abroad trip to Yerucham, Israel.
Katz testified that the synagogue had said it would assist her with medical care. This was confirmed by the program director. She also testified that the program refused to help her get the physical therapy she needed. This was neither confirmed nor denied. What was established was that the synagogue had duty of care over Katz, and was therefore responsible for keeping her safe and healthy.
Dictionary.law.com defines “duty of care” as “a requirement that a person act toward others and the public with the watchfulness, attention, caution and prudence that a reasonable person in the circumstances would use.” If an individual or organization with duty of care acts in a way that doesn’t meet that standard, those actions may be considered negligent. Any damages incurred as a result could be claimed in a negligence lawsuit.
That’s exactly what Katz was trying to do, and the panel ended up ruling in her favor. It was decided, 3-2, that the synagogue had duty of care for her. Knowing she had a knee injury and agreeing to provide medical care through the trip counselors, it was the synagogue’s responsibility to make sure Katz had access to the resources she needed to keep the injury from getting worse.
The defense and the justices on the panel who opposed the suit argued that if anyone should have been more careful with Katz’s knee injury, it was Katz herself.