The Concept of Foreseeability as it Relates to Personal Injury Litigation in College and University Residence Halls
Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology
Dr. Beverly A. Belson
Dr. Shirley Van Hoeven
Dr. Keith Pretty
Dr. Uldis Smidchens
The study of the concept of foreseeability as it relates to personal injury litigation for assaults in college and university residence halls reveals three significant implications for higher education. Duarte v. State of California (1978), Mullins v. Pine Manor College (1983), and Miller v. State of New York (1984) are three important cases reviewed. Each case is analyzed using foreseeability, the student/institutional relationship, the various duties owed to the student, the breach of the duty, the presence of negligence, and the imposition of liability.
The implication involves the student/institutional relationship. This implication demonstrates the incongruity of the legal duty to protect students when the students must also be treated as adults by the institution.
The second implication involves the imprecise nature of the foreseeability concept. Despite serving as the primary test of the scope of the duty owed, the flexible and vague nature of foreseeability leaves institutions at great risk in matters where large monetary judgments hang in the balance.
The third implication involves the traditional autonomy of institutional decision-making. This autonomy has given way to a process in which legal considerations are integrated with educational priorities. Although decision-making remains an internal process within the institution, the change in the age of majority and protests of the 1960s increased the influence of students within the process. Institutional officials are legally accountable for behavior over which, from an educational standpoint, it is not in their best interest to exercise control. Students who possess greater decision-making power may be unwilling to invest institutional resources in security measures which institutional officials feel obligated to utilize to fulfill their legal duty to protect and provide safe premises.
Johnston, F. Bruce Jr., "The Concept of Foreseeability as it Relates to Personal Injury Litigation in College and University Residence Halls" (1989). Dissertations. 2111.