According to The Tech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s oldest newspaper, the parents of Robert M. Wells have filed a Boston wrongful death lawsuit against MIT and the Delta Upsilon fraternity. Wells, a 22-year-old MIT student, died in 2008 after falling five stories from the DU fraternity and sustaining skull fractures, blunt impact to his head, brain contusions, lacerations, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and other injuries.
Michael and Laura Wells are alleging 26 counts of Suffolk County, Massachusetts wrongful death. They claim that the defendants did not remedy or warn about the condition of Wells’ living quarters, which had a heating system that was hard to control and had just one “unreliable thermostat.” As a result, the DU brothers would open the windows during the winter to regulate the temperature in their bedrooms.
However, per the lawsuit, all of the windows on the upper floor of the fraternity lacked bars, screens, locks, or other safety devices. Wells, a DU brother, fell after opening the window next to his bed.
The plaintiffs are also seeking damages for conscious pain and suffering.
DU and MIT have filed responses with the Court denying the allegations. They are also citing a Massachusetts law that limits liability of charitable organizations to $20,000. DU also contends that Massachusetts law bars habitability claims from wrongful death cases. The fraternity is arguing that Wells was over 50% at fault in causing his fatal injuries.
Wells is not the only Boston college student to die from a fall accident from a residence or another building. Also in 2008, Boston University student Michael Robertson died after falling out of a fourth floor window of his South Campus residence hall. In November 2007, Art Institute of Boston student Shawn Dow died after falling off the roof of a building’s black-top roof while attending a party. Also that year, MIT student James T. Albrecht died after falling five stories from the roof of a New York apartment building.
Property owners can be held liable for Boston premises liability if their negligence contributed to a fall accident occurring. Fall accidents can result in broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, massive head trauma, internal injuries, and death.
Parents of dead student sue MIT, Delta Upsilon, The Tech, September 28, 2010
Fall off roof killed student, police say, Boston.com, November 18, 2007
Remembering Michael Robertson, BU Today, January 23, 2007
Obituary: James T. Albrecht ’08, The Tech, September 7, 2007
Related Web Resources:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology