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Court rules in favor of fraternity in lawsuit following assault

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed summary judgment in favor of a fraternity whose members lived in a Terre Haute private residence where a man visiting for a party was assaulted. The victim claimed the fraternity should be liable because members of the college chapter hosted the party.

Andrew Rogers traveled from Northwestern University to Terre Haute to attend a birthday party at the home of defendants Ancil Jackson, Brian Mifflin Jr. and Joshua Kearby. They were members of Sigma Chi, but did not live in a Sigma Chi-owned property because the chapter’s house was repossessed. All members lived on campus or in private residences. Some items from the fraternity were stored at the defendants’ home to be used during meetings at an on-campus location.

While at the party, Rogers, who was intoxicated, was punched in the eye by Dana Scifres. The defendants weren’t home when the assault took place. Rogers is appealing the grant of summary judgment in favor of Sigma Chi International, its Terre Haute chapter and Jackson, Mifflin Jr. and Kearby.

On appeal, he argued that Sigma Chi had a duty to protect him under premises liability principles because the chapter had possession of the premises where he was injured; the defendants had a duty to protect him under negligence principles because the assault was foreseeable or because the defendants assumed such a duty; and the International fraternity was vicariously liable for the acts of everyone at the residence because it had apparent authority over them as Sigma Chi’s agents.

The Court of Appeals rejected all of his claims in Andrew J. Rogers v. Sigma Chi International Fraternity, Theta Pi of Sigma Chi, Ancil Jackson, Brian Mifflin, Jr., and Joshua Kearby, 84A04-1305-CT-224. Sigma Chi did not control the premises, so summary judgment was appropriate, the court held. The party invitation explicitly said the party was not a rush event and non-fraternity brothers lived in the house. Chapter business was not conducted there.

The attack on Rogers was not foreseeable, so the defendants had no duty to protect him, Judge Melissa May wrote. Another roommate threw the party and invited both Rogers and his attacker, Scifres. Rogers even admitted he didn’t think anyone could have anticipated the assault would occur. The defendants also did not assume a duty to protect Rogers against an attack.

And regarding his claim to Sigma Chi’s vicarious liability, “We decline to hold the presence of fraternity materials in a private residence amounts to a manifestation by an international fraternity that the tenants of that residence are acting as the fraternity’s agents. Summary judgment for the defendants on that ground was not error,” May wrote.
 

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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