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Hegel v. Langsam

    Brief Fact Summary. A Chicago University (the University) failed to look after one of its students and the student began using drugs and associating with criminals. The parents sued the university for failing to maintain order on campus and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. A university is under no duty to act in order to ensure that its students are behaving appropriately.

    Facts. The Defendants, Langsham and other school officials (Defendants), made a motion for judgment on the pleadings. The Plaintiffs, Mr. and Mrs. Hegel (Plaintiffs), claim that their seventeen-year-old daughter was enrolled at the University, where she was allowed to associate with criminals, be seduced, become a drug user, be absent from her dormitory and was not returned to her parents’ custody on demand. Plaintiffs cite O.R.C. 3345.21 requiring a university to maintain law and order on campus and O.R.C. 2151.41 making it a crime to contribute to the delinquency of a minor in support of their cause.

    Issue. Is a University liable for the failure to effectively monitor and control its students?

    Held. No. Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings granted.
    * In this court’s opinion, the Plaintiffs have completely misconstrued the duties of a university. No one is required to attend, but rather attendance is granted to those who meet specific requirements and are presumed to be sufficiently mature to conduct themselves appropriately. Neither statute cited by the Plaintiffs has any bearing on the facts in this case. The Plaintiffs have failed to state a cause of action.

    Discussion. This is another example of the common law’s approach to a failure to act. Only when a special relationship exists between the defendant and the injured party, is a failure to act by the defendant considered an actionable tort.


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