Cal Poly rejects Kristin Smart family’s wrongful death lawsuit

April 8, 2024

Kristin Smart


In an attempt to get the San Luis Obispo Superior Court to toss a lawsuit accusing Cal Poly of wrongful death, negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress in the death of Kristin Smart, the university filed a demurrer. Demurrer means “so what,” it doesn’t matter if everything in a complaint is accurate, the plaintiff has no case.

Paul Flores murdered Smart during an attempted rape in 1996 following a Cal Poly frat party. After the party, Flores helped escort Smart, who was found passed out on a lawn outside the party, back to the dorms. She was never seen again and her body was not recovered.

In 2022, a jury found Flores guilty of the murder of Smart.

The Smart family filed a lawsuit in January that accuses Cal Poly of failing its legal duties because it “did not pursue a missing person case promptly, did not interview witnesses timely, did not seal the primary suspect’s dorm room as a crime scene, allowed the suspect’s room to be sanitized and cleaned before it was searched, and did not search the suspect’s room until sixteen days after Smart disappeared.”

Even though Smart was killed in 1996, the Smart family argues the 2024 suit is timely because they were not aware of Cal Poly’s failures until May 2023, when Cal Poly’s president publicly apologized to the family saying: “We recognize that things should have been done differently – and I personally wish that they had.”

On April 2, on behalf of Cal Poly, the Office of the Attorney General of California asked the court to reject the suit because it fails to provide a statutory basis for liability, lacks standing to sue and is barred by immunity.

First, the state argues the Smart’s lawsuit fails to comply with statutes of limitations and the Government Claims Act. Negligence and wrongful death causes of action have a two-year statute of limitations. In addition, the Government Claims Act requires that a claim for injury is filed within six months of an incident.

“While the statement by President Armstrong is mentioned three times in the complaint, none of the factual assertions that are the basis for the causes of action are attributed to that statement,” according to the demurrer. “The statement did not cause the alleged failure to investigate or the murder.”

Secondly, the state argues the Smart family does not have standing to bring their negligence claim.

“Family members such as parents or siblings, cannot bring negligence causes of action based on a harm suffered by that family member,” according to the demurrer. “Further, the sibling plaintiffs lack standing to bring a claim for wrongful death.”

Lastly, the claims listed in the current Smart family lawsuit were already litigated in their prior lawsuit filed in 1996, which they lost, according to the state.

“The prior lawsuit brought by parent plaintiffs based on the death of Kirstin Smart is an absolute bar to their current claims and the court should sustain the demurrer without leave to amend,” according to the demurrer. “Because of the nature of these failings act as bars to these causes of action, there is no path for curing the defects. This court should sustain this demurrer without leave to amend.”

A hearing on the demurrer is scheduled for August 15.


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Unfortunately, Kristen Smart was likely already dead before campus police would’ve had any chance to do anything to prevent her death. In other words, any police bungling would not have affected whether she died or not. Sorry. Case closed.

Good point, but had Cal Poly police acted competently after Kristin went missing, Paul Flores would have went to prison much much sooner.

I think it will be tough to win a lawsuit based on the idea that the police didn’t catch the perpetrator soon enough. I think this family has gotten addicted to the court system. R.I.P. Kristin

Cal-Poly SLO needs to be accountable for the way that it bungled and obfuscated the Kristin Smart murder investigation.

Armstrong is an embarrassment. He previously reminded us that he was not here when the crime happened, a comment that was patently obvious and way out of place. Two things are obvious: 1) had Cal Poly acted competently in the matter, Paul Flores would have been expelled long before he killed Kristin, and 2) if the university police were not a bunch of keystone cops, Paul Flores would not have spent 25 years as a free man.

Cal Poly should take full responsibility for their incompetence in this matter; not doing so sends the message that there are no consequences for their wrong doings.

What a low life idea. The Smart family is just after money. If this kind of law suit prevails Cal Poly will be the responsible party For every nick, fall, or scrape suffered by any person who ever heard of Cal Poly. My reading of the issue Ms. Smart was found in a drunken state outside of Cal Poly. Sorry folks this law suit is way off base.


The dogs picked up the scent of death in a dorm room on campus. The death occurred there, or the body was taken there and then removed from there. Cal Poly is culpable in the incident. Clearly Cal Poly Police bungled the investigation.

The Smart’s have a case.

So you are stating a scraped knee and the violate sexual assault and murder of a child as equal, I feel sorry for you.