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Court allows Yale fraternity liability after fatal car accident

According to a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling, a fraternity can be sued for negligence in connection with a 2003 crash that killed four Yale University Students. The relatives of the victims are pursuing a wrongful death claim that alleges the fraternity leaders failed to provide safe transportation home from the event. The Hartford students were returning from a Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity event for pledges in New York City when their SUV slammed into a tractor-trailer that had crashed on I-95 in Fairfield.

The lawsuit alleges that the driver was sleep-deprived from the fraternity's self-described, "Hell Week," where pledges are allegedly hazed. A lower court ruling in favor of Delta Kappa Epsilon has been overturned, allowing the families of the victims to hold the fraternity liable for the crash that killed four young men ages 19-20. Two of the victims were pitchers on the Yale baseball team. There were also five other students injured in the accident.

In addition to the fraternity, the lawsuit also names the state Department of Transportation and two construction companies that had worked on the highway before the collisions. According to the complaint, the fraternity had a duty to provide safe transportation and negligently chose the young and hazed freshman who had little sleep and had been up for nearly 20 hours before the accident. An attorney for the victims stated that the Yale fraternity had the resources to provide a car service, but instead expected the pledges to drive with a young, exhausted and inexperienced driver.

Source: Connecticut Post, "Court: fraternity can be sued in fatal Yale crash," Dave Collins, Sept. 19, 2012

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