The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of letting a UCLA alumna who was stabbed by a fellow student in 2009 move forward with a lawsuit against the university.
The court unanimously agreed to overturn an appeals court ruling that tossed out the 2010 case in which Katherine Rosen, a former UCLA student, sued the university for negligence when another student stabbed her in a chemistry lab, according to court documents. Following this ruling, Rosen can pursue the case again in court.
Damon Thompson, who stabbed Rosen, had been treated by the university for symptoms of schizophrenia and paranoia prior to the attack. Rosen filed suit against the University of California Board of Regents in 2010, arguing UCLA should have warned her and protected her from Thompson.
The state appeals court ruled in 2015 that UCLA was not obligated to protect Rosen.
In its Thursday ruling, the California Supreme Court found that universities have an obligation to protect students from threats, including crimes. It noted the UC has taken initiative to ensure the safety of students, improving mental health services and emergency preparedness after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, which led to the deaths of five professors and 24 students.
UCLA spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said that although the university sympathized with the trauma Rosen endured, it is disappointed with the California Supreme Court’s decision. He added UCLA is concerned about the decision’s impact on higher education.
UCLA argued in the initial case that universities are not obligated to protect students from criminal acts and are immune from liability for criminal acts because of state government protections. It also argued that if there were such an obligation, UCLA did not breach it during the Rosen case.
However, Rosen argued UCLA was obligated to protect her because universities have a supervisory role in the classroom and must provide campuswide security for all students.