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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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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