A University of Washington grad who fell from a fourth-floor window at the Delta Upsilon fraternity house in 2005 filed a lawsuit against the fraternity>"/>
A University of Washington grad who fell from a fourth-floor window at the Delta Upsilon fraternity house in 2005 filed a lawsuit against the fraternity earlier this month, according to a Seattle P-I report. The suit claims the fall stemmed from a culture that promotes alcohol consumption and a dangerous sleeping environment.
Erik Anderson, then a freshman pledge, slipped from a window and fell about 45 feet to a parking lot. He has since undergone massive physical therapy, and has had to give up plans of becoming a dentist because of wrist damage. No amount has been reported, but court documents state that Anderson's medical expenses have totaled more than $279,000 so far, and that his parents have suffered about $20,000 in damages related to his injuries.
The lawsuit was filed three days after another student died after falling from a fraternity-house window. That student, 21-year-old Kevin McDonald, a UW junior, fell from a third-story window of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity house.
This isn’t a strange new occurrence either; fraternity falls, whether alcohol-induced or otherwise, have been occurring for decades across the nation. So have the ensuing lawsuits.
In 2004, the parents of a 19-year-old UW student who died after falling from balcony during a party two years prior settled a lawsuit against the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed, but the family’s lawyer stated that the money would create a memorial scholarship fund.
Some, such as Billy Price — who fell from an open third-floor window at the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity house in 1997 — fight the negative visions.
He admitted being at a party prior to the fall, but also said he wasn't drunk. Stereotypes that he was "just some drunk frat boy that jumped out the window" are "crap," he told the Seattle Times.
Looking back further into the past, it’s clear that fraternity falls were much more of an epidemic at UW two decades ago. In less than two years, there were two deaths and one injury related to falling accidents: an 18-year-old at Beta Theta Pi died in September 1987, a 20-year-old was injured at Sigma Alpha Epsilon in January 1986, and a 19-year-old died at Aplha Delta Phi in May 1986.
However, UW isn’t alone. Washington State University, their rivals to the East, show a similarly troubled past.
In 1999, An 18-year-old Phi Delta Theta fraternity member was seriously injured in a fall from the house's second story in what police say was an alcohol-related accident. The year prior, an (again) intoxicated student fell from a second story window of the Sigma Nu fraternity house and was severely injured, fracturing his skull.
Now, so it seems, the ball is in the court of a judge to determine whether Delta Upsilon should be held liable for Anderson’s medical costs. And, possibly, another ball rests with Kevin McDonald’s family to determine their course of action.