Yale Frat Death: University Sued By Victim’s Family

    January 16, 2014
    Val Powell

A total of 86 current and former members of a fraternity at Yale University are being sued. The lawsuit is over a fatal tailgating crash that happened during the 2011 Harvard-Yale football game in New Haven, CT, that led to a woman’s death.

Tragically, 30-year-old Nancy Barry lost her life when she was hit by a U-Haul truck that was being driven by Yale fraternity member, Brendan Ross. The truck, which was filed with beer kegs, was being driven to the Sigma Phi Epsilon tailgating event. Apparently, Ross somehow lost control of the vehicle, fatally striking Barry and injuring two other women. Criminal charges were brought against Brendan Ross but were later dropped after he entered into a probation program.

A lawsuits was then filed against Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity by the families of Barry and one of the injured persons, Sarah Short, who is also a Yale student. Those lawsuits are still pending.

The complainants’ attorneys said they filed new lawsuits on Dec. 30, against each of the 86 frat members, regardless of whether or not they were at the event. They decided to sue individual frat members because defense documents indicate that the national chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon cannot be held responsible. Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity says it did not  sanction the tailgating event and its insurance company doesn’t cover individuals who are not members of the fraternity.

The fact that Yale chapter is a voluntary association and is not organized or incorporated in any legal way is what prompted the lawsuits against the individual members, said Paul Edwards, Barry’s lawyer.

However, Edward’s still holds the belief that the fateful event was sponsored by the fraternity.

Edwards said his clients had to file individual lawsuits because of the defense’s “bogus” stance. “It’s our claim that what happened at Yale two years ago was very clearly, definitively and obviously a Sigma Phi Epsilon-sponsored fraternity event,” Edwards said.

The defense lawyer, Jeremy Platek was not available to comment on the matter.

Image via Wikimedia Commons