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Los Angeles County Superior Court granted summary judgment for OLG’s client on a claim for battery. OLG’s client, a regional center, coordinated services for a developmentally disabled consumer in a residential neighborhood. The consumer broke free of his monitors and ran across a residential street to attack plaintiff, a neighbor. She alleged significant injuries from the altercation.

Plaintiff alleged that because the regional center was aware of past dangerous and violent behavior of the developmentally disabled consumer, and it had the means to control the consumer, it breached a duty to Plaintiff who claimed to be a foreseeable bystander when the consumer ran across the street, jumped on top of her and repeatedly hit and bit her. Relying on Morohoshi v. Pacific Home (2004) 34 Cal.4th 482, OLG argued that its client cannot be held vicariously liable for a consumer’s conduct because the client did not directly provide any services; instead, OLG’s client coordinated services by entering into contracts with direct service providers. Plaintiff then shifted her contention and argued that the regional center was directly negligent. OLG presented evidence and authority that a regional center’s duty is to its consumers, not to the general public including Plaintiff. Furthermore, OLG argued that the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act’s focus is to provide services, support, and protection to the developmentally disabled person, not to bystanders.

The Court agreed that when it comes to placing a consumer in a residential facility, a regional center suggests or recommends where a consumer may be placed, but it is up to the residential facility whether to accept the consumer as a resident. As such, the regional center lacked the ability to unilaterally control the developmentally disabled consumer, and also lacked the duty to control their placement. The Court found that the regional center could not be liable to Plaintiff under either a vicarious liability or direct negligence theory. As a result, judgment was granted for the regional center.

Nicole Fassonaki wrote and argued the winning motion for summary judgment.