Holding the College Responsible to Send a Message
A wrongful death suit was filed with the US District Court in Northern New York with respect to Kristine's tragic fate. On December 18, 2007 the District Court granted Paul Smith's College's motion of summary judgment to dismiss the case.
The District Court's ruling is a disconcerting example of how the civil law is stacked against students at the cost of student safety. The Court's decision includes the Court's summary of the facts which conforms with the facts stated in other parts of this site. Significant in this summary are the stated actions of Paul Smith's College's personnel. Additionally, the decision contains strong language concerning Paul Smith's College's failure to appropriately intervene upon witnessing a dangerous situation and commentary about the College's "laissez-faire attitude" concerning campus drinking.
In the District Court’s decision, four points are evident: 1) College personnel witnessed an extremely dangerous situation involving scores of students, 2) College personnel consciously decided to not take effective steps to attempt to halt the dangerous situation, 3) two students eventually died from the dangerous activities which were foreseeable at the time the College had the opportunity to effectively intervene, 4) the facts, if determined true at trial, demonstrated to the District Court that the College was ineffective overall in enforcing the Student Code of Conduct by stating in footnote 8: “The court does not suggest that the College's alleged laissez-faire attitude towards underage and/or binge drinking--if true--was appropriate or well-advised.”
Despite these statements regarding Paul Smith College's indifference to student safety that fatal night, the archaic reading of a college's legal obligation for student safety by the District Court led the Court to find for the college.
As much as this decision is disturbing to Kristine's family, all parents of college students attending New York colleges should be equally disturbed. The judgment effectively relieves New York colleges of the responsibility to address dangerous and reckless activities of students when such activities occur directly in their view.
Society, and especially parents, expect more of those institutions with whom they entrust their precious children.
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In loving Memory of Kristine Guest
Connect the issues (works with Internet Explorer)
|Colleges' Responsibility for Student Safety|
|Circumstances Leading to Fatal Crash|
|Photos-Proximity of bon fire to campus|
|Full Circuit Court Decision|
|Governmental Failure to Enforce Failure to Enforce Federal Law to Protect Students-Confirmed-see IG Report-3/14/12|