COLLEGE LIABILITY FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT
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GENERAL STANDARD IN NEW JERSEY AND SOME OTHER STATES
An apartment owner, bar, or college does not
guarantee the safety of its occupants. Some states like New Jersey do impose a
duty of reasonable care. Thus, if the complex failed to use proper lighting,
video cameras, proper locks, or other safety precautions, particularly in an
area where crimes had previously occurred, they may be liable.
LIABILITY FOR ACQUAINTANCE ASSAULT
Some courts have rejected claims for acquaintance assault or date rape where the assault occurs in the student's apartment. In Murrell v. Mount St. Clare College: “A college, or any other kind of landlord … is incapable of foreseeing an acquaintance rape that takes place in the private quarters of a student or tenant, unless a specific student or tenant has a past history of such crimes” (2001, p. 4). Murrell v. Mount St. Clare College, 2001 WL 16778766 (S.D. Iowa 2001).www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0354.pdf. Some courts have taken a narrow view of a school's olbigations. "The general rule is that colleges are not liable for the criminal acts of others. See Kavanagh v. Trustees of Boston Univ., 440 Mass. 195 (2003); Bradshaw v. Rawlings, 612 F.2d 135 (3d Cir. 1979). The traditional rationales are that colleges have no general legal duty to ensure security from criminal acts, and even where courts have imposed a duty of care, colleges are often successful in proving that their conduct was not the proximate cause of the crime at issue, that some “intervening actor” was the true cause of injury. See Nola M. v. Univ. of Southern California, 20 Cal. Rptr. 2d. 97 (Cal Ct. App. 1993). www.nacua.org Annual Conference.
Proof of a violation of established
standard and testimony that the violation materially contributed to the act may
be sufficient to establish liability or present the case to a jury. See The
National Center for High Education Risk Management, Best Practices for Student
Health and Safety,
The student must establiish a causal connection, in Murrell, the school's failure to provide accurate criminal statistics was deemed not to be a cause of an assault.
TITLE NINE LIABILITY
Schools may become liable for sexual assault or harassment:
sue their schools under Title IX to get monetary damages for pain and suffering
resulting from sexual harassment, they must prove that school officials actually
knew about the harassment and were deliberately indifferent to it and that the
harassment was so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it limited
the student's educational opportunities or benefits. When a student-plaintiff
seeks to hold a school liable for monetary damages for its response to a sexual
assault, the student-plaintiff must prove that the school's response, or lack
thereof, was unreasonable in light of known circumstances (see Davis v.
Monroe County Board of Education). According to the decision in Kelly v.
Yale University, Civ.A. 3:01-CV-1591, 2003 WL 1563424 (D. Conn. 2003),
strict adherence to school policies does not guarantee the school immunity under
QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE OF THIS LAW OFFICE
Howard A. Gutman has been handling personal injury claims and other types of litigation for over 15 years. Prior to establishing his practice, Mr. Gutman was employed by one of the leading law firms in New Jersey and a prominent international law firm located in the Wall Street area. He has appeared on Good Day New Jersey been interviewed by NBC Nightly News and Newsday, and his cases have been profiled in the Star Ledger, Bureau of National Affairs Magazine, and New York Times.
HOW DO I CONTACT YOU
Law Offices of Howard A. Gutman,
230 Route 206 (near Routes 80 and 46)
Mount Olive, New Jersey 07836 Directions to our office
E-mail Howian@aol.com Fax (973)209-4091
New York Office
305 Madison Avenue, Suite 449
New York, New York 10165 (212) 886-4838 (please call our NJ office for initial consultations)
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We offer a free initial telephone consultation to
discuss your case. Please feel free to call or e-mail our office.
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