Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

California Rehabilitation Facilities Not Responsible for Escaped Residents’ Criminal Actions

California state residents Jasper Rice and Jennifer Asbury (plaintiffs) appealed the dismissal of their negligence action against Center Point, Inc. and Humbolt Recovery Center (defendants). Four of the defendant’s residents had escaped from the rehabilitation facility and stabbed the plaintiffs. An appellate court affirmed the dismissal, as no duty existed for the defendants to control their patients' criminal behavior.

The four escapees were California Department of Corrections prisoners placed in the defendant's facility. The plaintiffs claimed that monitoring and safety practices disregarded by the defendants had made the escape and attack possible. The plaintiffs further argued that no violent offenders were supposed to participate in the rehabilitation program, and that failure to follow that policy had resulted in the attack.

The Court of Appeals of the State of California affirmed the dismissal. It was previously held that "the defendants did not owe a duty to the plaintiffs as the foreseeable victims of the residents' criminal conduct … [as] such a duty is imposed only where the injury is foreseeable and the intended victim is identifiable." The appellate court further held that "failure to comply with any policy and procedures for the safe operation of a residential drug treatment facility" did not change the fact that "a residential treatment facility does not owe a duty to the general public to exercise ordinary care to control the criminal behavior of its program participants.” See: Rice v. Center Point. Inc., 154 Cal.App.4th 949, 65 Cal.Rptr.3d 312 (Cal.App. 1 Dist., 2007).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Rice v. Center Point. Inc.