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Fatal accident in Ne Haven leads to civil suits

The college football season is an exciting time for college students, alumni and other fans. Fans often turn a football game into an all day event -- with tailgating before and sometimes after a game. Unfortunately, the festive atmosphere before the annual Harvard-Yale football game in New Haven quickly turned to tragedy after a fatal accident killed one person and injured two others.

In Nov. 2011, a member of Yale's Sigma Phi Epsilon was driving a U-Haul through an area that was filled with pedestrians. The student is said to have been delivering alcohol and other tailgating supplies to his fraternity brothers for their tailgate party when he apparently lost control of the vehicle and hit three woman. One of the women died as a result of the injuries she suffered in the accident.

Recently, one of the injured women and the family of the deceased woman filed a civil lawsuit against the fraternity, U-Haul and the driver. Only the local fraternity is named because representatives from the national organization claimed it is not liable for the local chapter's actions. However, Connecticut law defines the fraternity as a voluntary organization, requiring that each of the 86 students who were members of the fraternity at the time of the New Haven accident must be added individually as defendants.

The injured woman claims that she has already spent over $300,000 in medical expenses as a result of the fatal accident. She is hoping the court will award her monetary damages to cover these and future medical expenses. If liability is established in a Connecticut court through proof of negligence, observers estimate that both the personal injury claim as well as the one for wrongful death could be worth in the neighborhood of $1 million in damages.

Source: The Harvard Crimson, Victims of 2011 Harvard-Yale Tailgate Collision Sue Members of Yale Fraternity, Meg P. Bernhard, Jan. 15, 2014

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