Judge dismisses parents’ suit against University of Idaho

A District Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the University of Idaho filed by the parents of a student who fell from a fraternity window three years ago.

Amanda Andaverde, then a 19-year-old sophomore, suffered debilitating injuries when she slipped from an upper-story window and fell 25 feet to the concrete below at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Her parents were seeking damages, and recently offered to settle the case for $1 million. The university declined.

In a written decision, 2nd District Court Judge Michael Griffin granted the UI’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss the claim. Griffin said the university did not have what the law calls a “special duty to aid or protect” Andaverde under the circumstances of the case.

“The plaintiffs have not presented sufficient evidence, even when viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, to establish that the University owed a duty to Ms. Andaverde,” Griffin wrote. “Without such a showing the plaintiffs’ claim of negligence would not be meritorious.”

Warren Dowdle, the Boise attorney representing Andaverde, said a decision on whether to appeal will be made after consultation with her family.

Legal claims against Andaverde’s former sorority, Delta Delta Delta, the fraternity, and several unnamed individuals are still pending. Dowdle declined comment on the future of those actions.

In a hearing earlier this month, Dowdle argued the UI was liable for Andaverde’s injuries because it oversees the campus Greek system, and works with it on safety issues. Dowdle also said the university encourages students to live in fraternities and sororities, has the ability to enforce sanctions against them, and maintains policies against underage drinking.

Lewiston attorney Ted Creason, representing the university and co-defendant the Idaho State Board of Education, argued the UI can’t control the lives of its students. He said Andaverde was acting as an adult when she chose to consume alcohol on the night of her fall, and the parties she attended were in privately owned Greek residences.

Griffin cited those arguments in his decision.

“The court concludes that there are no genuine issues of material fact, and that the University and Board of Education did not have legal duty, nor assume a duty to protect Ms. Andaverde from consuming alcohol, or protect or keep her safe from any unsafe living conditions at the SAE sleeping porch on the night of September 9th and the early morning of September 10th, 2009,” he wrote.

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U-Idaho says it can’t control students 24/7

A University of Idaho attorney says the school can’t control what students do on private property outside of school hours, and so it can’t be held liable for injuries a 19-year-old sophomore sustained when she fell out of a fraternity window after a party.

Lewiston attorney Theodore Creason presented the school’s arguments in 2nd District Court on Wednesday, asking Judge Michael Griffin to throw out a lawsuit from former student Amanda Andaverde and her parents.

Andaverde broke several bones and was seriously injured in 2009 when she rolled off a bed at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house and fell out of a window, striking the concrete almost 30 feet below. Though she was underage, Andaverde had been drinking and should have been prevented from doing so by older fraternity and sorority members, the lawsuit states.

 

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