Wager v. Moore
Disabled Student Alleged College Negligently Supervised Students
Torts | Personal Injury | Education Law
- New London J.D., at New London
- Dec 18 2013 (Date Decided)
- Devine, J.
A college student who is admitted into a disability students’ program may possess a cause of action against the college for negligent failure to supervise and negligent design. The plaintiff, Rachel Wager, alleged the following facts, which have not been proven. At 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 4, 2011, Wager allegedly left her dormitory, after drinking alcohol, crossed Montauk Avenue in New London, Conn. and was struck by a car. The plaintiff sued the driver and Mitchell College. Mitchell College moved to strike the plaintiff’s allegations that the college negligently failed to supervise and negligently designed its campus. Mitchell College claimed it had no duty to guarantee the safety of university students. The plaintiff objected that the college assumed a special relationship when it admitted the plaintiff into a disability students’ program and owed the plaintiff a special duty of care. Connecticut’s Superior Courts have not been persuaded that universities and college owe a general fiduciary duty to ensure the safety of university and college students. "The premise of modern post-secondary education," wrote New Haven Superior Court Judge Linda Lager in a 2009 decision, Pawlowski v. Delta Sigma Phi, "is that students have both rights and responsibilities and that universities do not have a general duty to insure their safety." A duty may arise, if a university affirmatively assumes direct responsibility for student safety. The court found that the plaintiff’s complaint adequately alleged a relationship that differed from the traditional relationship between a university and a college student, because it decided to offer a disability student service program. "Mitchell College," wrote the court, "has a duty to execute that program in a reasonable manner," and the court denied the motion to strike.