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Victim in campus stabbing sues UC Regents, alleging school officials failed to protect her

By Kylie Reynolds

Dec. 8, 2010 4:01 p.m.

A UCLA student who was stabbed during a chemistry lab in 2009 by a fellow student recently filed a lawsuit against her attacker and the University of California Regents in civil court.

Katherine Rosen is suing the regents for failing to properly respond to warnings about the potentially violent behavior of Damon Thompson, who stabbed Rosen on Oct. 8, 2009.

The case is scheduled for a hearing in March in the Santa Monica Superior Court.

UCLA intends to mount a rigorous defense against the civil action, which the university feels does not have any merit, said spokesman Phil Hampton.

“While our hearts go out to the student and her family for the trauma that was endured, we believe very strongly that it was a random act of violence,” Hampton said. “In court, the victim’s father admitted it was a random act of violence.”

Although Hampton said UCLA acknowledges there had been contact between Thompson and the campus prior to the incident, privacy laws do not allow the university to disclose any details of the contact.

After the incident, the university conducted a review of UCLA’s Consultation and Response Team, a crisis identification program. The review did not conclude that the program required changing, Hampton said.

On Nov. 16, a superior court judge ruled that Thompson, who admitted to the stabbing, was not guilty by reason of insanity. Thompson was moved to Patton State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in San Bernardino County, for an indefinite amount of time.

The Rosen case bears similarity to Tarasoff vs. University of California Regents, a 1976 court case in which a UC Berkeley student killed a fellow student. The Supreme Court of California ruled in that case that mental health professionals have a duty to protect individuals who are being threatened by a patient.

Hampton would not comment on any legal details of the case. Rosen’s attorney, Brian Panish, could not be reached for comment.

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