Torts I, Pages 135–136

Sindle v. New York City Transit Authority

New York Court of Appeals, 1973


Plaintiff was a passenger on defendant's school bus. It was the last day of school, and the kids were excited. Some of the kids began vandalizing the bus, although plaintiff was not shown to be one of them. Defendant admonished the students about the damage and excessive noise. Eventually, he stopped the bus at one of the stops and went to the rear of the bus to inspect the damage. He advised the remaining students that he was taking them to the police station. He then did so, bypassing several stops. Plaintiff and his father sued for false imprisonment.

Procedural History:

Trial court denied defendants' motion to amend to plead the defense of justification and excluded all evidence bearing thereupon.


Bell: The privilege of justification is a generic term for a defense to a tort in circumstances where it would be unfair to hold defendant liable when no traditional defense applies.


School bus drivers have a duty to take reasonable measures for the protection of both passengers and property. To carry out this duty, they must have some level of privilege.


Reversed and remitted for a new trial.