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Teacher wins snowball fight injury legal battle

A German teacher has won a legal battle with his school by having his wounds from a snowball fight with pupils recognised as a work injury, a court said Monday.

Teacher wins snowball fight injury legal battle
Photo: DPA

The teacher, who missed a month in the classroom due to an eye injury sustained from a snowball lobbed by a student, is entitled to standard compensation for work accidents, the administrative court in the southwestern city of Freiburg said in a summary of the ruling made in December.

This applies even if snowball fights are officially banned by the school, the judges added.

As the teacher entered the courtyard, a group of about 15 pupils began pelting him with snowballs.

He initially tried to defend himself by guarding his face with a folder, telling the pupils it was unfair to gang up on him and knocking the snowballs from their hands. But he eventually joined in.

The school board had argued that the teacher had thus abandoned the hierarchical relationship with his pupils and acted as an “equal” when he started hurling his own snowballs back at them, the court said.

The plaintiff, who was not identified by name, was hit directly in the eye in the melee and required an operation that kept him from work for a month.

However the judges found that the teacher “because of his good relationship with the students, saw their snowball assault not as mean-spirited but as an expression of fun and a challenge.”

He argued that “if he had stuck to a demand for them to stop and walked away, he would have made a fool of himself as a teacher”.

The court added that it thus saw his wound as a work injury but noted that the interpretation could not be applied to clearly “excessive” behaviour such as a fist fight after a company holiday party or drunken driving on the job.

The school board may still appeal.

AFP/jcw

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FRANKFURT

Emergency numbers fail in several German states

Callers to the emergency numbers 110 and 112 weren’t able to reach operators Thursday morning in several German states.

The 112 emergency number on an ambulance.
The 112 emergency number on an ambulance. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The emergency number 110 for police and 112 for fire crews failed around the country early Thursday morning, with callers unable to reach emergency operators for urgent assistance between about 4:30 am and 5:40 am local time.

The Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Aid is looking into these outages, which were reported in states including Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, and  Brandenburg, and in major cities like Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. Cologne was further affected by cuts to electricity, drinking water, and regular telephone services. Lower Saxony also saw disruptions to the internal phone networks of police and hospitals.

Emergency services are not reporting any more disturbances and people should be able to once again reach 110 and 112 around the country as normal.

Investigators are looking into the problem, but haven’t yet established a cause or any consequences that may have happened due to the outage. Provider Deutsche Telekom says they have ruled out the possibility of an attack by hackers.

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