Fraternity settles Yale tailgating death suit
HARTFORD, CONN. >> A Yale University fraternity and more than 80 of its members have settled lawsuits over a fatal rental truck accident outside the popular Yale-Harvard football game in 2011, bringing an end to all litigation in the case, a lawyer said Friday.
A U-Haul truck carrying beer kegs heading to the Sigma Phi Epsilon tailgating area outside the Yale Bowl fatally struck 30-year-old Nancy Barry, of Salem, Massachusetts, and injured two other women. Brendan Ross, a Yale student and fraternity member who was driving the truck, was allowed into a probation program that erased criminal charges against him.
Ralph Sbrogna, a Worcester, Massachusetts, attorney representing Barry's family, told The Associated Press that the national office of Sigma Phi Epsilon, the fraternity's Yale chapter and the Yale fraternity members at the time of the accident were the final defendants to settle the lawsuits. The settlements were reached in November, but formal court documents have yet to be filed, he said.
Terms of all the settlements were confidential, and none of the defendants admitted any wrongdoing, Sbrogna said.
The fraternity and its members had been scheduled to go on trial in the case next week in state court in Waterbury.
Barry's family and Sarah Short, a Yale student injured in the accident, sued the fraternity; its members, including Ross; Yale; U-Haul; and other defendants for unspecified damages. Yale, U-Haul and other defendants had earlier settled the lawsuits, Sbrogna said.
"The family is happy to have this behind them, to have some closure to this," Sbrogna said of Barry's relatives. "Whatever was gained from this settlement monetarily is not going to bring this young woman back."
A lawyer for the fraternity did not immediately return a message seeking comment Friday.
A Yale spokesman had no immediate comment.
The accident happened Nov. 19, 2011, outside the Yale Bowl, where Harvard beat Yale 45-7 in the 128th edition of the rivalry.
Ross, of O'Fallon, Missouri, revved the truck's engine in an effort to get pedestrians to move, but the vehicle took off, state prosecutors said. Ross told police he tried to hit the brake but hit the gas pedal instead. Ross passed a field sobriety test after the accident and was charged with negligent homicide and reckless driving.
He was granted accelerated rehabilitation in February 2013. The program allows charges to be erased upon successful completion of probation. He also was ordered to perform 400 hours of community service.
After the accident, Yale tightened its tailgating rules. It now bans kegs at university athletic events and other functions. Also, oversized vehicles, such as box trucks and large commercial vehicles, are barred from university lots at athletic events unless they are driven by a preapproved authorized vendor.
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