Student Death Could Cost Notre Dame Millions

Compensatory, punitive damages could be around $75 million: report

Wednesday, Nov 3, 2010  |  Updated 9:15 PM CDT
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Notre Dame Gathers to Remember Student Killed in Fall

Several hundred students packed into the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the University of Notre Dame campus Thursday night in a Mass of Remembrance for Declan Sullivan.
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The University of Notre Dame could lose millions of dollars following the death of a student who was perched atop a scissor lift when it came crashing down in high winds.

Compensatory damages could be in the $15-20 million range and punitive damages could be more than double that, an article published in Forbes this week pointed out:

    If found guilty of negligent behavior and if the degree of fault rests predominantly in the university’s lap, Notre Dame could face compensatory damages in the $15M to $20M range in the aftermath of Declan Sullivan’s tragic death.  And if punitive damages are also levied upon the university, the price tag associated with Mr. Sullivan’s passing could increase by an additional $45M-$60M if penalized to the maximum allowable amount under Indiana law.

Declan Sullivan died Oct. 27 while recording video of the Fighting Irish football team's practice session.  In the moments before the tower he was on toppled over, Sullivan posted messages to his Facebook and Twitter profiles expressing his fear of working during severe weather.  

Winds in the area were gusting to 51 mph at the time and Indiana's Occupational Safety and Health Administration ruled the death a workplace fatality.

The Internet postings the 20-year-old from Long Grove made will likely be used to determine the university's culpability.

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