Regents of the Univ. of Cal. v. Superior Court of L.A. Cnty., B259424

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtZELON, J.
Citation240 Cal.App.4th 1296,193 Cal.Rptr.3d 447
PartiesThe REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, et al., Petitioners, v. SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent, Katherine Rosen, Real Party in Interest.
Decision Date07 October 2015
Docket NumberB259424

240 Cal.App.4th 1296
193 Cal.Rptr.3d 447

The REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, et al., Petitioners
v.
SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent
Katherine Rosen, Real Party in Interest.

B259424

Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 7, California.

Filed October 7, 2015


Maranga Morgenstern, Kenneth A. Maranga, Morgan A. Metzger, Dennis Newitt, Woodland Hills, and Paul A. Elkhort; Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland, Timothy T. Coates and Feris M. Greenberger, Los Angeles; University of California Office of the General Counsel, Charles F. Robinson, Karen J. Petrulakis and Normal J. Hamill ; University of California, Los Angeles and Kevin S. Reed, Los Angeles, for Petitioners.

Reed Smith, Paul D. Fogel and Dennis Peter Maio, San Francisco, for The California Community Colleges, California Institute of Technology, California State University, Chapman University, Claremont McKenna College, Pepperdine University, Pitzer College, Pomona College, Stanford University and The University of Southern California, as amici curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

Munger, Tolles & Olson, Brad S. Phillips and Grant Davis–Denny, Los Angeles, for JED Foundation, American College Counseling Association and NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, as amici curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

No appearance for Respondent.

Alan Charles Dell'Ario, Oakland; Panish, Shea & Boyle, Brian Panish, Los Angeles, and Deborah S. Chang for Real Party in Interest.

The Arkin Law Firm and Sharon J. Arkin for Consumer Attorneys of California, as amicus curiae on behalf of Real Party in Interest.

Opinion

ZELON, J.

240 Cal.App.4th 1300

Katherine Rosen, a student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), suffered severe injuries after being attacked by

240 Cal.App.4th 1301

another student, Damon Thompson, during a chemistry laboratory. Several months before the attack, the school had treated Thompson for symptoms indicative of schizophrenia disorder, including auditory hallucinations and paranoid thinking. Rosen filed a negligence action against the Regents of the University of California and several UCLA employees alleging that defendants had breached their duty of care by failing to adopt reasonable measures that would have protected her from Thompson's foreseeable violent conduct. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that public colleges and universities and their employees do not have a legal duty

193 Cal.Rptr.3d 451

to protect adult students from third party criminal misconduct.

The trial court denied the motion, concluding that defendants owed Rosen a duty of care based on her status as a student and, alternatively, as a business invitee onto campus property. The court further concluded there were triable issues of fact whether UCLA had voluntarily undertaken a duty to protect Rosen by providing mental health treatment to Thompson. Defendants filed a petition for writ of mandate and we issued an order to show cause. We now grant defendants' petition, concluding that a public university has no general duty to protect its students from the criminal acts of other students.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A. Factual Summary

1. Events preceding Thompson's mental health treatment

Damon Thompson transferred to UCLA in the fall of 2008. Shortly after enrolling in classes, Thompson sent several emails to his history professor, Stephen Frank, reporting that he was “angered” by “offensive” remarks other students had made to him during an examination. Thompson asserted that he was “outrage[d]” because he believed the students' conduct had affected his academic performance. Frank forwarded the emails to the chairman of the history department, who advised Frank to try to calm Thompson. The chairman also advised Frank to refer Thompson to “psychological services” if he believed Thompson was “genuinely paranoid or a potential threat.”

In January of 2009, Thompson wrote a three-page letter to Robert Naples, the Dean of Students, alleging that a female resident in his dormitory had made “unwelcomed verbal sexual advances” toward him. Thompson also complained that other residents had made “accusations of a sexual nature about [him]”; questioned his “intelligence”; “disrupt[ed] his sleep cycle”; and “invaded [his] privacy” by distributing his “personal information ... via rumors.” Thompson warned Naples that if the university failed to discipline

240 Cal.App.4th 1302

the responsible parties, the matter would likely “escalate,” causing Thompson to “act[ ] in a manner that will incur undesirable consequences.” Thompson was transferred to a new dormitory one week after writing the letter.

Several weeks later, Thompson sent emails to three other professors and teaching assistant Jenny Hernandez complaining that other students were “attempting to distract [him] ... by making offensive comments.” Hernandez sent multiple emails to her supervising professor reporting that she had never heard any students insult Thompson and believed he might have psychological problems. According to Hernandez, Thompson was “withdrawn,” frequently “talk [ed] to himself” and appeared “unstable.” Hernandez believed his behavior was symptomatic of schizophrenia.

Assistant Dean of Students Cary Porter was notified of Thompson's situation and contacted Karen Minero, a member of UCLA's “Consultation and Response Team” (CRT). The CRT was responsible for providing advice and consultation to campus members who had concerns about the well-being of students. Porter also met with Thompson and encouraged him to seek medical help at UCLA's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

On February 28, Thompson informed the resident director of his dormitory he had “heard a clicking sound that he believed to be a gun” and had previously heard “other residents talk about having a gun and shooting him.” Thompson told

193 Cal.Rptr.3d 452

the resident director that, in response to these incidents, his father had advised him that he could “hurt the other residents.” Although Thompson had “thought about it,” he decided he “wasn't going to do anything.”

The resident director contacted the campus police, who interviewed Thompson and conducted a search of the room where the clicking noise had allegedly originated. After finding no weapon, the officers informed the director that they thought Thompson “needed a mental evaluation.” Thompson agreed to be voluntarily escorted to the UCLA emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation. During the examination, Thompson complained of auditory hallucinations, paranoid thinking and a history of depression. In describing his symptoms, Thompson reported that he felt people were insulting him and heard “ ‘people talk to [him] when there is no one there.’ ” Medical examiners diagnosed Thompson with paranoid delusions and possible schizophrenia disorder, but concluded he did not exhibit any signs of suicidal or homicidal ideation. Although Thompson rejected voluntary hospitalization for treatment, he agreed to begin taking antipsychotic drugs and to attend outpatient treatment at CAPS.

The resident director informed Cary Porter and the CRT about Thompson's dormitory incident and his subsequent mental evaluation. The CRT discussed

240 Cal.App.4th 1303

Thompson at a meeting on March 9, 2009, noting that although he had repeatedly complained of verbal harassment he had never identified any individual students.

2. Thompson's mental health counseling at CAPS

On March 11th and 12th, Thompson began treatment at CAPS, attending two sessions with psychologist Nicole Green. Although Green believed Thompson was suffering from schizophrenia, she concluded that he did not exhibit suicidal or homicidal ideation and had not expressed any intent to harm others. During a third session on March 18th, Thompson told Green he would not meet with a psychiatrist to discuss possible medications for his condition until he was able to determine whether the voices he was hearing were real. Thompson expressed frustration that nobody believed he was hearing voices and stated that he would try to record them.

At a fourth meeting on March 26th, Thompson told Green he did now believe he was experiencing auditory hallucinations and was amenable to a psychiatric evaluation. Thompson also reported that he continued to feel harassed by other students in his dormitory, which made him angry, but denied experiencing suicidal or homicidal ideation. Later the same day, Thompson met with CAPS psychiatrist Charles McDaniel and again denied experiencing suicidal or homicidal ideation. Thompson did, however, inform McDaniel he had previously experienced general “ideations of harming others,” clarifying that he had never formulated an actual plan to harm anyone and never identified a specific victim. Thompson refused McDaniel's...

To continue reading

Request your trial
16 practice notes
  • Demonte v. Griffith, Case No. 1:16-cv-00116-LJO-SKO (PC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • December 19, 2016
    ...of injuries suffered by the plaintiff. [Citations.]" Regents of the Univ. of California v. Superior Court of Los Angeles Cty., 240 Cal. App. 4th 1296, 1310, 193 Cal. Rptr. 3d 447, 458 (2015), reh'g denied (Oct. 26, 2015) quoting Ann M. v. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center (1993) 6 Cal.4th ......
  • Alarcon v. Davey, Case No. 1:16-cv-01461-JLT (PC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • May 9, 2017
    ...of injuries suffered by the plaintiff. [Citations.]" Regents of the Univ. of California v. Superior Court of Los Angeles Cty., 240 Cal. App. 4th 1296, 1310, 193 Cal. Rptr. 3d 447, 458 (2015), reh'g denied (Oct. 26, 2015) quoting Ann M. v. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center (1993) 6 Cal.4th ......
  • Applegate v. Said, Case No. 1:16-cv-00289-JLT (PC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • November 16, 2016
    ...of injuries suffered by the plaintiff. [Citations.]" Regents of the Univ. of California v. Superior Court of Los Angeles Cty., 240 Cal. App. 4th 1296, 1310 (2015), reh'g denied (Oct. 26, 2015) quoting Ann M. v. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center, 6 Cal.4th 666, 673 (Ann M.) (1993); [disappr......
  • Valdvia v. Smith, Case No. 1:16-cv-01020-SKO (PC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • December 15, 2016
    ...of injuries suffered by the plaintiff. [Citations.]" Regents of the Univ. of California v. Superior Court of Los Angeles Cty., 240 Cal. App. 4th 1296, 1310, 193 Cal. Rptr. 3d 447, 458 (2015), rehg denied (Oct. 26, 2015) quoting Ann M. v. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center (1993) 6 Cal.4th 6......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
16 cases
  • Demonte v. Griffith, Case No. 1:16-cv-00116-LJO-SKO (PC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • December 19, 2016
    ...of injuries suffered by the plaintiff. [Citations.]" Regents of the Univ. of California v. Superior Court of Los Angeles Cty., 240 Cal. App. 4th 1296, 1310, 193 Cal. Rptr. 3d 447, 458 (2015), reh'g denied (Oct. 26, 2015) quoting Ann M. v. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center (1993) 6 Cal.4th ......
  • Alarcon v. Davey, Case No. 1:16-cv-01461-JLT (PC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • May 9, 2017
    ...of injuries suffered by the plaintiff. [Citations.]" Regents of the Univ. of California v. Superior Court of Los Angeles Cty., 240 Cal. App. 4th 1296, 1310, 193 Cal. Rptr. 3d 447, 458 (2015), reh'g denied (Oct. 26, 2015) quoting Ann M. v. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center (1993) 6 Cal.4th ......
  • Applegate v. Said, Case No. 1:16-cv-00289-JLT (PC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • November 16, 2016
    ...of injuries suffered by the plaintiff. [Citations.]" Regents of the Univ. of California v. Superior Court of Los Angeles Cty., 240 Cal. App. 4th 1296, 1310 (2015), reh'g denied (Oct. 26, 2015) quoting Ann M. v. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center, 6 Cal.4th 666, 673 (Ann M.) (1993); [disappr......
  • Valdvia v. Smith, Case No. 1:16-cv-01020-SKO (PC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • December 15, 2016
    ...of injuries suffered by the plaintiff. [Citations.]" Regents of the Univ. of California v. Superior Court of Los Angeles Cty., 240 Cal. App. 4th 1296, 1310, 193 Cal. Rptr. 3d 447, 458 (2015), rehg denied (Oct. 26, 2015) quoting Ann M. v. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center (1993) 6 Cal.4th 6......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT