Appeals court affirms judgment for Valpo frat in student fight

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A fraternity fight between two Valparaiso University students who had clashed before is not grounds to hold the local or national fraternities responsible for one of the student’s injuries.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of defendants in Andrew Meyer v. Beta Tau House Corporation, Beta Tau of Sigma Pi, Sigma Pi Fraternity International, Inc., and Quentin Calder, 64A03-1406-CT-205. Meyer, who sustained injuries in a frat house fight with student Daniel Meals, sued for negligence and defamation.

"The evidence establishes that these two individuals had a history of interpersonal tension, that Meyer goaded Meals into a confrontation on the night in question, and that Meals was unable to manage his anger in an appropriate way,” Judge John Baker wrote for the panel.

"There were only three people present at the 803 house until Meals arrived, reaching a total of four people.  It stretches the bounds of credibility to call this gathering a party, even a 'closed' party," Baker wrote. "And there is no evidence in the record tending to show that this informal gathering was a fraternity-sanctioned or -provided event."

Meyer also claimed defamation based on a letter advising him to stay away from the premises. The panel ruled the statements are shielded from defamation claims based on the common interest qualified privilege, because all the parties who read the letter had an interest in resolving tension at the house.


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