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College Security Program Creates Duty To Implement That Program Properly (PA)

February 9, 2023

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In <em><a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Doe-v.-Moravian-College.pdf">Doe v. Moravian College</a>,</em> 2023 U.S. Dist. Lexis 4027, 2023 WL 144436 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 10, 2023), the Court acknowledged that landlords can be found liable for the criminal conduct of other parties when the landlord establishes a program of security. In <em>Doe</em>, Plaintiff asserted a claim of negligence against her college alleging that the school failed to provide adequate security after she was allegedly sexually assaulted in a dorm. Generally, a landlord owes no duty to protect its tenants from the criminal conduct of other parties. However, the Court found that an exception to Pennsylvania’s standard negligence law applied when a landlord establishes a program of security, the tenants reasonably rely upon it, and the landlord negligent carries out the program.

In <em>Doe v. Moravian College</em>, the court found that there is evidence that the college had implemented a security program in the dormitories by requiring school identification cards to enter the dormitories, they used residential advisors in their dormitories, and that security workers were employed by the school. The school, therefore, owed a duty to the Plaintiff as a landlord. The College argued that no duty was owed because courts have stopped imposing a duty of loco parentis upon colleges and universities. However, the Court differentiated the case because the tortious act took place in a campus dormitory.

Ultimately, the Plaintiff's case failed when she had to show that the College breached a duty to the Plaintiff by showing that the operation of the security program was negligent. Here, the Court found that the Plaintiff failed to provide evidence of the breach through a negligent security program.

Thanks to Jean Scanlan for her contribution to this post.  Should you have any questions, please contact <a href="tbracken@wcmlaw.com">Tom Bracken</a>.

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