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Kristin Smart’s family files civil complaint against Cal Poly for negligence and wrongful death

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The family of Kristin Smart filed a civil complaint against Cal Poly for negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and wrongful death on Thursday.

The civil complaint details that the Smart family did not fully realize the extent of the mistakes made by the university until May 2023, when Cal Poly's President publicly apologized to the family stating, "[W]e recognize that things should have been done differently - and I personally wish that they had."

"The university's apology really opened the Smart family's eyes to what the university must have known and must still know," explained Smart family Attorney Marc Lewis in an interview with your News Channel. "It was a very unusual apology, in particular how the president mentioned 'we would do things differently now'."

The civil complaint goes on to specify that Cal Poly breached its legal duty in the following ways: by not pursuing a missing persons case promptly, not interviewing witnesses in a timely manner, not sealing Paul Flores', the primary suspect at the time, dorm room and allowing it to be sanitized prior to a search 16 days after Smart's disappearance.

Additionally, the university had received multiple other reports about Paul Flores based on his threatening, stalking, and harassing behavior before Smart's murder from community members and fellow Cal Poly students detail the civil complaint.

According to the civil complaint, the claims did not begin to accrue until the public apology mentioned above in May of 2023 and the Smart family has never received the full investigative file from Cal Poly despite exhausting the procedural process to receive that information.

"The allegations are really twofold. One is that Mr. Flores shouldn't have been on campus and shouldn't have been able to murder Kristin. And then the second is that even after her disappearance, the university was woefully negligent her disappearance, which made the trauma to the family, you know, unspeakably worse," said Marc Lewis.

Kristin Smart was a 19-year-old Cal Poly student who disappeared after attending an off-campus party in May 1996, and 26 years later in October of 2022, Paul Flores was found guilty of her murder.

Paul's father Ruben Flores, who had a separate jury, was found not guilty of being an accessory to the crime.

The Smart family filed the civil complaint Thursday morning demanding a jury trial over the claims detailed within and a request for judgment against Cal Poly of unspecified money damages and legal fees as well as further relief as the court might deem appropriate.

"The Smart family would like to thank the Cal Poly community and the San Luis Obispo community for the support they've shown them over the years, in particular in the most recent year with the Criminal Trial and Chris Lambert's podcast," relayed Marc Lewis. "We as a law firm really hope that this lawsuit gives the university the opportunity to finally take responsibility for its failings to Kristin and to the family."

Cal Poly declined to comment on pending legal matters when reached for comment about the complaint.

Article Topic Follows: San Luis Obispo County
civil complaint
kristin smart
san luis obispo county
San Luis Obispo County Superior Court

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