A Baltimore judge recently refused to toss out a lawsuit against Morgan State University surrounding a violent attack by a student against a visitor.
The school urged the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that the beating was not foreseeable given the student’s behavior, and noted that the student didn’t have a history of documented violence.
The attorney for the victim, however, stated that the perpetrator engaged in a variety of bizarre behaviors over a six month period leading up to the beating, and that those instances should have put the school on notice that the young man was violent.
Specific examples of violent behavior include when the student reportedly punched holes in the wall of a campus computer lab, which ultimately led to his dismissal from the ROTC program. Following the incident, an instructor told campus police that the student was “a “Virginia Tech waiting to happen.” He also made cryptic comments regarding a “blood sacrifice,” and allegedly wrote strange posts on various social media accounts. The judge acknowledged that the school should not be responsible for policing social media sites, but that the pattern of behavior suggested that the student was a potential risk.
Additionally, approximately a week after the baseball bat attack, which took place at a campus dorm, the student allegedly acknowledged to campus authorities that he had killed a man staying with his family, and ate the man’s heart and part of his brain.
The student has since pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible for the baseball attack, and has thus been committed indefinitely to a psychiatric hospital. He is expected to plead the same way in regards to the charges related to killing a 37 year old Ghanian house guest his parents were hosting.
While the specific legal premise of the case against the university remains unclear, it is likely that the suit is being pursued under a negligence cause of action. Negligence requires a showing that the person responsible for the harm failed to meet a certain standard of care, which ultimately resulted in harm to the plaintiff (the person bringing the suit). In car accident cases, for example, negligence presents itself in cases where individuals speed or fail to observe relevant traffic laws. Here, the standard would be how other colleges or universities would react given a student presenting a similar sort of risk.
In addition to proving that the University acted in a negligent way, the plaintiff will also have to show that it was this failure to act which resulted in the injury, otherwise referred to as causation. That may be difficult in this case, since it is unclear how the University may have prevented the student from attacking the visitor, even if they had taken notice of the potential risk he may have posed.
If you or a loved one has sustained a personal injury in Maryland or Washington D.C., consult the experienced personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. Our law firm has extensive experience in helping victims recover the damages they are entitled to. Let us focus on the legal aspects of your recovery, so that you can focus on the physical and emotional. Contact us today in order to schedule your free initial consultation. You can reach us through our website, or by calling 1-800-654-1949.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland High Court Upholds Contributory Negligence Rule, Maryland Accident Law Blog, published July 12, 2013
Maryland Highway Worker Killed on Route 216 in Scaggsville, Maryland Accident Law Blog, published July 5, 2013