Attorney Support Services for San Diego County and the Temecula Valley.

Eviction Services

Iron Law Eviction Services for San Diego County and Riverside County.

The Regents of the University of California v. Superior Court

Filed 3/22/18 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY ) OF CALIFORNIA et al., ) ) Petitioners, ) ) S230568 v. ) ) Ct.App. 2/7 B259424 THE SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ) ANGELES COUNTY, ) Los Angeles County ) Super. Ct. No. SC108504 Respondent; ) ) KATHERINE ROSEN, ) ) Real Party in Interest. ) ____________________________________) After he enrolled in the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Damon Thompson experienced auditory hallucinations. He believed other students in the classroom and dormitory were criticizing him. School administrators eventually learned of Thompson’s delusions and attempted to provide mental health treatment. However, one morning Thompson stabbed fellow student Katherine Rosen during a chemistry lab. Rosen sued the university and several of its employees for negligence, arguing they failed to protect her from Thompson’s foreseeable violent conduct. SEE CONCURRING OPINION This case involves whether, and under what circumstances, a college or university1 owes a duty of care to protect students like Rosen from harm. Considering the unique features of the collegiate environment, we hold that universities have a special relationship with their students and a duty to protect them from foreseeable violence during curricular activities. Because the Court of Appeal reached a different conclusion, we reverse its decision and remand for further proceedings. I. BACKGROUND A. Thompson’s Behavior Preceding the Assault Damon Thompson transferred to UCLA in the fall of 2008. He soon began experiencing problems with other students in both classroom and residence hall settings. At the end of fall quarter, Thompson emailed his history professor that he was “angered” by “offensive” remarks from other students during the final examination and “outrage[d]” because their comments had affected his performance. Thompson also complained he had heard the professor calling him “ ‘troubled’ and ‘crazy’ among other things.” When the professor forwarded Thompson’s messages to his department chair, he was advised to calm Thompson and encourage him to visit the school’s counseling services if he appeared “genuinely paranoid or a potential threat.” Thompson next complained about mistreatment by fellow dormitory residents. In a three-page letter to the Dean of Students, Thompson alleged a female resident had repeatedly made “unwelcomed verbal sexual advances” toward him, and others had spread rumors and “accusations of a sexual nature about [him] . . . throughout the entire student body.” He claimed the residents frequently disrupted his sleep, called him “ ‘stupid,’ ” and eavesdropped on his 1 We use the terms “college” and “university” interchangeably to refer to all schools that provide postsecondary education to enrolled students. 2 phone calls. Not only had he been “made the ‘target’ ” of the residents’ “teasing,” but he also “receive[d] an immense amount of unwanted attention” around campus. Thompson warned that if the university failed to discipline the responsible parties, the matter would likely “escalate into a more serious situation,” and he would “end up acting in a manner that will incur undesirable consequences.” A week later, the school moved Thompson to a new dormitory. In late …
Original document
Source: California Supreme Court