Judge rules U of M can be liable for off-campus incidents involving students

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A recent legal ruling could change the way that students are kept safe at and around the University of Memphis.

The U of M has recently improved its student safety measures by doing things like upgrading its surveillance and security systems. But a judge recently ruled the school may also be held liable for assaults that happen off campus.

The case was originally filed in January 2018 following an alleged sexual assault.

On Nov. 27, federal judge Mark Norris ruled that based on legal precedent and factual allegations, the plaintiff Jane Doe had a plausible claim to relief from the school.

The ruling meant that even though the alleged assault happened off campus, the university was obligated to investigate and keep the victim, a student at the time, safe.

In a recent interview, university police described student safety as a high priority.

“That’s our number one job — to make sure that everyone feels safe or comfortable coming out here to work or learn," assistant campus police chief Derek Myers said.

This recent ruling would expand the school’s responsibility, which is one the school seemingly is resisting.

The university has filed a total of 17 defenses and again asked the court system to dismiss the action Dec. 11.

The next step will be next month when the two sides gather for a scheduling conference. In the meantime, authorities urge students to report any incident to campus police.

“There is no complaint that is too small," Myers said. "Anything that you think needs our attention, send it to us.”

WREG reached out to the U of M to find what steps they’re taking in light of the recent ruling, but we were informed school staff is on winter break until next week.


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