LOS ANGELES, Calif. (FOX 11/ CNS) - The state Supreme Court reinstated a lawsuit on Thursday brought against UCLA by a former student who was stabbed by a classmate in a campus chemistry laboratory in 2009.
The court unanimously ruled that California universities may be held liable for failing to protect students from violence in classrooms and during college-related activities.
A request for comment left with a UCLA spokesman was not immediately returned.
The decision overturns a lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit filed against the University of California regents by Katherine Rosen, who was stabbed and had her throat slashed by a mentally ill classmate in her chemistry lab.
The lawsuit alleged that in the months before the attack, UCLA officials and professors had received reports of disturbing behavior by Rosen's assailant, Damon Thompson.
The court cited the 2007 fatal shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech University, and concluded that Rosen should be able to go before a jury with her claim that the university had a legal duty to protect her.
Writing for the court, Justice Carol A. Corrigan wrote that students are ``dependent on their colleges for a safe environment.''
"Colleges have a superior ability to provide that safety with respect to activities they sponsor or facilities they control,'' she wrote. "...All college students who hope to obtain a degree must attend classes and required laboratory sessions,'' according to the ruling. ``It is reasonable for them to expect that their schools will provide some measure of safety in the classroom.''
Rosen alleged in the suit that the university knew her attacker had been showing schizophrenia-like symptoms, for which he received treatment from UCLA. He had also threatened other students and told a teaching assistant that he believed Rosen was insulting him, according to the lawsuit.
Rosen, who was severely injured, recovered from her wounds and returned to school. Thompson, who was charged with attempted murder, was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to a state psychiatric hospital.