PREMISES LIABILITY- In Boyd v. Cebalo, 2015-1085 (La. App. 4 Cir. 3/16/16), —So. 3d —-, a Tulane University student filed suit following an incident where Cebalo, a guest of her suitemate, was alleged to have snuck into her dorm room and inappropriately touched her while she was sleeping. The plaintiff sued the alleged perpetrator. She also sued Tulane under allegations that it failed to provide a safe environment or to comply with industry standards regarding doors, locks, and other security measures. Tulane filed an Exception of No Cause of Action alleging that Cebalo’s alleged actions were an “intervening and superseding cause” and that it owed no legal duty to Boyd. The Exception was granted by the lower court.
The Fourth Circuit reversed, labeling the dismissal of the claim as “clearly wrong.” According to the Boyd Court, “a third-party’s criminal activity does not grant the university absolute immunity from liability.” In its analysis, the Court found that the factors given by the Louisiana Supreme Court in Posecai v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 99-1222 (La. 11/30/99); 752 So. 2d 762 for the assessment of the liability of a business for the criminal actions of others “can easily be applied to a university setting.” Further, the Court seemed to question the use of an Exception of No Cause of Action to resolve a potentially fact-intensive case insofar as no evidence is to be offered in support of such an exception. Because the plaintiff may be able to ultimately demonstrate that the alleged criminal conduct was reasonably foreseeable, the matter was remanded back to the trial court.