California court rules colleges might not have duty to protect students

Public college and universities might not be responsible for protecting students from violence, a California appeals court has ruled.

In a two-to-one decision, the appeals court ruled that the University of California at Los Angeles was not responsible for one of its students getting stabbed and having her throat slashed by a fellow student. The offending student, Damon Thompson, had been treated by the university for schizophrenia-related symptoms and was later found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Still, the appeals court based its decision on whether the university did enough to protect the victim, Katherine Rosen, having known of the attacker's symptoms.

"We find no basis to depart from the settled rule that institutions of higher education have no duty to their adult students to protect them against the criminal acts of third persons," the ruling said. "The conduct at issue here — a violent crime perpetrated by an individual suffering from mental illness — is a societal problem not limited to the college setting."