Notre Dame Student Death Could Spur Potential Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit

11/05/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, US // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan

South Bend, IN—The family of Notre Dame student Declan Sullivan, who was killed while filming football practice just over a week ago, may have grounds to sue the university. A Nov. 1, 2010 Forbes blog suggested that if the university is found principally liable for Sullivan’s alleged wrongful death, up to $80 million in potential compensatory and punitive damages could be assessed.

According to a previous report titled, “Notre Dame Student Filming Football Practice from Tower Killed in Collapse,” Declan Sullivan, of Long Grove, Illinois, was standing in a hydraulic scissor lift and filming the Fighting Irish practice when the tower toppled over.

The injurious incident occurred at the LaBar practice complex. The lift, which landed on a nearby roadway, can be lowered or raised when needed.

Emergency medical services (EMS) personnel rushed Sullivan to a South Bend hospital. Sadly, he succumbed to his traumatic injuries and was pronounced dead at the medical center.

As the National Weather Service reported 51 mph wind gusts in the area on that tragic day, Sullivan also allegedly tweeted his concerns regarding the inclement conditions.

Forbes blogger Patrick Rishe contended, “One friend of mine from the legal community suggested that Mr. Sullivan’s share of the blame is considerable given that he was aware of the dangers at hand yet willingly continued to do his job despite having the right to seek shelter.”

A counter argument, on the other hand, could be that it would have been sensible for one of the coaches, administrators, of facility staff members on the site to ask Sullivan to stop filming from the tower as a safety precaution.

The blogger also alleged, “Most 20-year-old employees of major Division 1 college football programs work in awe or fear (or both) of their coaching staffs and/or student-athlete peers. They are simply dedicated workers who show their school spirit by taking great pride in their job.”

Furthermore, Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly previously stated, “Declan was a diligent student worker in our video department and had a tremendous personality and great sense of humor.”

With that said, the blogger went on to explain that these students are less likely to opt out of their duties unless an adult requires or advises them to do so.

Nonetheless, if a wrongful death lawsuit were to be filed and the University of Notre Dame found liable, the school could be forced to pay up to $15 or $20 million in compensatory damages, as well as an additional $45 to $60 million in potential punitive damages.

Legal News Reporter: Sandra Quinlan– Legal News for Indiana Wrongful Death Lawyers.

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