In a 7-0 decision issued on January 20, 2016, the California Supreme Court granted Panish Shea & Boyle LLP’s request to review the California Court of Appeal’s decision in The Regents of the University of California v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, which held that public colleges and universities have no duty to protect their students from violence committed by other students on campus.
On October 7, 2015, the Second District Court of Appeal sided with UCLA in a 2-1 decision and dismissed a lawsuit filed by Katherine Rosen, a UCLA pre-med student who had been working in a chemistry laboratory on campus when she was brutally stabbed by fellow student Damon Thompson in 2010. UCLA staff had been well aware that Thompson, a schizophrenic, had exhibited violent, threatening and delusional behavior in the months leading up to the attack. He was later found not guilty of the attack against Ms. Rosen by reason of insanity.
Panish Shea & Boyle LLP represents Ms. Rosen, who filed a negligence action against the Regents of the University of California and several UCLA employees alleging the defendants had breached their duty of care by failing to adopt reasonable measures that would have protected her from Thompson’s foreseeable violent conduct. Ms. Rosen alleged that UCLA failed to adhere to its own policies and procedures. The Defendants brought a motion for summary judgement, which was denied by the trial court. On appeal, two of the three justices concluded that a public university has no general duty to protect its students from the criminal acts of another student and reversed the trial court’s decision.
“We are pleased that the California Supreme Court has chosen to review the Court of Appeal’s decision in this case. Students at California’s universities and colleges have a fundamental right to be protected from foreseeable violence while attending school,” states Panish Shea & Boyle LLP partner Brian Panish. “We will continue to fight for justice for Ms. Rosen and for all other students in order to ensure that universities are held accountable if adequate safety policies and procedures are not adopted and followed.”
Read the January 22, 2016 Los Angeles Time Article here.
Read more about the Court of Appeal decision here.