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Father settles Pennsylvania wrongful death claim in son's death

These blogs are posted on behalf of Seidel, Cohen, Hof & Reid, LLC, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the firm or its attorneys. The information presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.

A wrongful death claim against a University of Pennsylvania fraternity and a beer distributor has been settled. The family also named the university in their lawsuit, but they have since reached a private settlement. The wrongful death claim was initiated after a 20-year-old student fell over a railing and plunged 30 feet to his death.

Prior to the accident, the son was at the fraternity house and reportedly intoxicated. He attempted to walk up the stairs, but tripped and fell. He fell on his head and suffered traumatic injuries that resulted in the need for ICU care. He passed away in the Neuro Trauma unit four days after the accident.

The man's father filed a wrongful death claim, alleging the railings at the fraternity house were substandard. He alleged both the fraternity and the university were negligent because they failed to ensure the proper railing height. The complaint pointed to two other student incidents involving the low railings. The lawsuit also asserted that the beer store sold their son alcohol and failed to ask for his identification.

The Pennsylvania fraternity settled the wrongful death claim for $3 million and the beer store for $375,000. When a loved one dies as a result of another's negligence, families can turn to the civil courts for relief. While some cases may result in criminal charges, others may not. Regardless, the families retain the option to seek justice on their own in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit. A successful wrongful death claim could result in a monetary award and, perhaps, some sense of justice for their loss.

Source: Post-Gazette.com, "$3.4 million settlement reached in Penn frat party death," Zack Needles, Dec. 10, 2012

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