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Court rejects family’s lawsuit over UI frat-house fall, family may appeal

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) ― A state judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the University of Idaho by a student who fell from a fraternity house window in 2009. The Lewiston Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/MYkJv7 ) that 2nd District Judge Michael Griffin tossed the suit on Friday brought by former student Amanda Andaverde of Caldwell and her parents. Andaverde was a 19-year-old sophomore when she fell from an upper story window during a Sigma Alpha Epsilon frat house party and suffered debilitating injuries. The university recently rejected the parents' $1 million offer to settle the case. In court earlier this month, a UI lawyer told the judge the university can't control what students do on private property and shouldn't be held liable for accidents. Andaverde family attorney Warren Dowdle says a decision to appeal is pending. Click below for a full report.


Frat house fall lawsuit against UI dismissed

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — A civil lawsuit against the University of Idaho filed by a former student who fell from a frat house window during an off-campus party and suffered debilitating injuries has been dismissed.

Second District Judge Michael Griffin tossed the suit brought by Amanda Andaverde of Caldwell and her parents in a written ruling issued Friday. The Moscow-based university, which recently rejected a $1 million settlement proposed by Andaverde and her family, issued a statement Monday saying it was pleased with the ruling.

“This was a tragic accident and our hearts continue to go out to Amanda and to her family and friends,” the school said. “However, we believe the court is correct in its ruling that the university and our governing board were not proper parties to the damage claims brought by Amanda and her parents.”

Andaverde was a 19-year-old sophomore when she fell from an upper story window during a Sigma Alpha Epsilon frat house party. Andaverde fractured several bones and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

In court, an attorney for the family argued that the university was liable for Andaverde's injuries because it oversees the fraternity and sorority system on campus. Also, the family's attorney said the university, which maintains policies against underage drinking, encourages students to live in so-called Greek organizations and has the ability to enforce sanctions against them.

A lawyer for the university countered that school officials can't control what students do on private property and shouldn't be held liable for accidents. Additionally, the university said Andaverde was in a privately owned Greek house and acting as an adult when she chose to consume alcohol the night of her fall.

Griffin granted the university's motion seeking to dismiss the case in a written ruling.

He agreed that the university didn't have what the law calls a “special duty to aid or protect” Andaverde under the circumstances spelled out in the case.

“The plaintiffs have not presented sufficient evidence, even when viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, to establish that the University owed a duty to Ms. Andaverde,” Griffin said. “Without such a showing the plaintiffs' claim of negligence would not be meritorious.”

A decision on whether to appeal the ruling is pending, said the Andaverde family's attorney, Warren Dowdle.

The family's legal claims against Andaverde's former sorority, Delta Delta Delta, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and several unnamed individuals are still pending.

___

Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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