Amid ongoing incidents of violence at schools and colleges, the California Supreme Court has ruled that colleges DO owe their students a duty of care to protect them from foreseeable violence during curricular activities. This responsibility, the court ruled, was owing to the power dynamic between schools and students, which amounts to a “special relationship.”
This was a reversal of a previous appellate court decision, which held 2 to 1 that universities and colleges had no general legal obligation to protect adult students from the criminal actions of other students.
The case involves a 20-year-old pre-med student who was viciously attacked with a knife in a chemistry classroom by a fellow University of California at Los Angeles student. Her attacker had previously been diagnosed with paranoid delusions and possible schizophrenia and was undergoing outpatient treatment at the university at the time of the incident. He was later found not guilty by reason of insanity. Plaintiff’s argument against the university was the school breached its duty of care by failing to take reasonable steps to protect her from foreseeable violence. Continue reading →