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John R. v. Oakland Unified School District

California Supreme Court
769 P.2d 948 (1989)


John R.’s ninth-grade math teacher encouraged him to participate in an extracurricular work-experience program sanctioned by his school that involved correcting other students’ papers at the teacher’s apartment. The teacher developed a close relationship with John after many sessions and pressured him into engaging in sexual acts. John’s parents (plaintiffs) sued the Oakland Unified School District (defendant), asserting it held vicarious liability for the teacher’s acts and direct liability for its own negligence. The trial court sustained a demurrer dismissing the claims based on vicarious liability. The appellate court reversed, reasoning that the official authority that the school conferred on John’s teacher made the misconduct possible, even though it exceeded the scope of his official duties. The state supreme court granted review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Arguelles, J.)



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