Niece v. Elmview Group Home

In Niece v. Elmview Group Home, 131 Wn.2d 39, 929 P.2d 420 (Wash. 1997), a developmentally disabled woman brought an action for damages against a private group home after she was sexually assaulted by a staff member at the home. The Niece court explained that a group home's function is to provide care for those who are unable to provide care for themselves because of physical or mental impairment. See Niece, 929 P.2d at 424. In Niece, the court pointed out that "residents of group homes are more vulnerable to abuse by staff than by visitors or other third parties." Niece, 929 P.2d at 425. Staff members have greater access to residents than the general public and residents are unable to protect themselves and are thus dependent on their caregivers for their personal safety. See Niece, 929 P.2d at 424-25. Sexual assault may be foreseeable unless it is so out of the ordinary or improbable as to be completely outside the realm of expectability. See Niece, 929 P.2d at 427.