In the criminal court system, we prosecute only those responsible in some capacity for the alleged crime. In the civil justice system, where the goal is not to penalize but rather to restore, we do allow third parties to be held liable for the criminal actions of others when there is evidence those third parties failed in their duty to protect the victim or warn of danger.
Still, our courts can struggle with this concept – when such a duty exists, the extent of it and whether victim was deserving of protection.
The recent Oregon Supreme Court case of Piazza v. Kellim, a Peruvian foreign exchange student living in Portland was brutally gunned down in a 2009 mass shooting at a teen nightclub. She was just 17, and she died from her wounds. The gunman, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, shot several students, killing two, before turning the gun on himself. The representative of one of the exchange student’s estate later sued the now-defunct club and other businesses, as well as the organizer of the student exchange program, were negligent. Continue reading