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Justices to Review Suit Over Day-Care Center Deaths

August 05, 2003

The California Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the former operators of a Costa Mesa day-care center are liable for the deaths of two children killed there by a motorist in 1999.

Steven Allen Abrams, 43, was convicted of murder and sentenced in December of 2000 to life in prison after intentionally ramming his car into the playground of Southcoast Early Childhood Learning Center and killing Brandon Wiener, 3, and Sierra Soto, 4.

The parents of the children sued the center's operators, alleging they had failed to provide a safe environment.

A judge ruled in favor of the center, concluding that its directors could not reasonably be expected to have foreseen Abrams' criminal act.

But an appellate court reversed that decision, faulting the day-care center for not providing a stronger barrier or moving the children to a safer place.

Supreme Court justices will consider the question: "Under what circumstances may the operators of a preschool be held liable for injuries incurred by the preschool's students when a third-party assailant drove his car through a 4-foot-high chain-link fence?"

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