News & Events

Smith Haughey Achieves Victory for College

March 26, 2019

Smith Haughey attorneys achieved vindication for our clients in a difficult case that lasted eight years. In a tragic set of events, a college student traveled with his class to Italy to study abroad for two weeks. While there, he suffered a psychotic episode, fled the hotel where the students were staying, and ended up attacking and killing a local resident. He was charged in the death but found not criminally responsible because of mental illness, and was committed to a psychiatric hospital in Italy. He filed suit against the college and his professor, claiming that they were responsible for the events and his incarceration and hospitalization because they failed to properly monitor him to make sure he was taking his medications.

Smith Haughey represented the college and the professor. Attorney Jack Oostema convinced the trial court to dismiss the case, showing that the defendants did not act negligently. The student’s actions in killing a stranger were totally unforeseeable, and not caused by any alleged inaction by the defendants. The student appealed, and appellate attorney Jon Vander Ploeg convinced the court of appeals to affirm the lower court’s decision. This is yet another example of how Smith Haughey attorneys use their extensive litigation and appellate expertise to achieve the best possible result for our clients!

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