Webb V. Clark County School District
125 Nevada Advanced Opinion Number 47
On October 8, 2009, the Nevada Supreme Court made a ruling in the above-referenced action, which clarifies the law in some areas. This case arose out of a confrontation between a teacher and a student, with the student seeking damages.
First, the Court determined that the federal Paul D. Coverdell Teacher Protection Act of 2001 (20 U.S. C. Section 6731 (2006)) is an affirmative defense which must be affirmatively pled, or it is waived. The Cordell Act immunizes teachers, principals and other school professionals from liability and punitive damages when they take “reasonable actions to maintain order, discipline, and an appropriate educational environment.” However, it is not an absolute immunity if actions are unreasonable.
The other major issue addressed by the Court was the rendering of professional services (in this case, psychology) by a person not licensed in Nevada for that profession. The Court reasoned that if the State of Nevada regulates and licenses a practice, then public policy requires that those damages are not legally recoverable as a matter of law. A person practicing psychology without a license is guilty of a gross misdemeanor per statutes. The Legislature is intended to prevent laypeople from engaging in activities constituting the practice of psychology. Therefore, it would be contrary to Nevada law and public policy to permit parties to recover for psychological services rendered by unlicensed individuals. The ruling also cites favorably another state’s decision that insurance companies would not be required to pay for these unlicensed services.
It is assumed that the same rationale will by applied by the Nevada Supreme Court for non-licensed medical providers, including alternative medicine and self-prescribed physical therapy.
Steven R. Bartell, Esq.