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June 26, 2020

Plaintiff sued members of a college sorority after being attacked by a non-student guest at a party defendants hosted at their sorority house. Plaintiff argued that defendants’ party violated numerous safety rules established by the university and agreed to by the sorority, and that as a result defendants breached a duty owed to plaintiff.

The Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the action, holding that “[defendants] did not owe plaintiff a legal duty to follow [the university’s] fraternal organization safety protocols to prevent a third party criminal attack.” The protocols, including permitting guest checks by campus police and hiring security, were “highly burdensome [and] require a heightened degree of foreseeability to impose.” Plaintiff did not meet the heightened foreseeability requirement because he established only that defendants had knowledge of the possibility of violence, not its foreseeability. The court noted that “ ‘constructive knowledge’ or imputed foreseeability by ‘common sense’ is not sufficient to impose, as a legal duty the burdensome measures Plaintiff proposes.” 

Horvitz & Levy filed a request for publication in this matter.