Court Determines California University Is Not Responsible for Injury at Fraternity Party

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In a recent California personal injury case, a student brought a negligence claim against the University of Southern California (USC) for injuries she suffered at a fraternity party. The student, who was not attending USC, was apparently attending a fraternity party near USC and was dancing on a makeshift platform when another person bumped into her. The student fell and suffered serious injuries as a result. The student claimed that USC had a duty to protect her from an unreasonable risk of harm and that the University failed to protect her by failing to shut down or prevent the party.

The Duty of Care

A California personal injury case brought under the theory of negligence requires the injury victim to show that the defendant owed a duty of care toward the plaintiff. Generally, every person has a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid injuring others. However, a person who does not create a risk does not typically have a duty to protect others from harm. And generally, a person does not have to protect individuals from the conduct of third parties. In certain cases, there may be a duty to protect others from the conduct of third parties, such as where someone undertakes the duty of protecting another person or where a special relationship exists.

In this case, a California appellate court held that the University did not have a duty to protect members of the public from the conduct of a third party at an off-campus fraternity party. The court acknowledged that the school has control over the campus, its rules and disciplinary measures, and campus police. However, as the California Supreme Court stated, universities have a special relationship with their students while the students are engaging in school activities—but that does not extend to “student behavior over which the university has no significant degree of control.”

The court held that the university did not have a special relationship with the student. The student was not a USC student, and she was not engaged in a school activity. The student argued that USC had a duty to protect her because she was on property subject to USC’s control when she was injured. That is, because the fraternity house was subject to USC’s policies and was monitored by public safety, she argued that USC had a duty towards her.

The court, however, decided that the University did not have control over the fraternity house. Although the University’s policies applied to the fraternity, that did not constitute an exercise of control over the property itself. The court also held that the University did not have control over the fraternity or its members. The court explained that a university has little control over off-campus, non-curricular activities.

Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured, and believe that another person or entity may be responsible, contact an experienced California personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The Neumann Law Group has more than 200 years of combined experience representing accident victims. We provide trustworthy, experienced legal representation to California personal injury victims in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas. The Neumann Law Group is dedicated to helping victims navigate the legal system in order to help them obtain financial compensation and to hold others accountable for their actions. Call 1-800-525-NEUMANN or contact us online to set up a free consultation.

See Related Posts:

Court Reverses Jury Verdict in Favor of City in Case Involving a Faded Crosswalk, California Injury Lawyer Blog, January 28, 2019.

California Appellate Court Dismisses Medical Malpractice Claim Based on Inadequate Expert Declaration, California Injury Lawyer Blog, February 11, 2019.

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