PHILADELPHIA, PA (December 3, 2012) – A $3 million-plus settlement has been reached between the defendants, including Phi Kappa Sigma International Fraternity, Inc., and its local Alpha Chapter, and a Bucks County beer retailer, and the parents of a 20-year-old college student who fatally fell over an unsafe stairway railing following a 2010 New Year’s eve party at the frat. Phi Kappa Sigma collectively agreed to pay the plaintiffs $3 million and Suds Beer Store, of Trevose, Bucks County, $375,000, as its part of the settlement.
Robert J. Mongeluzzi, of Saltz, Mongeluzzi, and Bendesky, P.C., whom represented Matthew Crozier’s parents along with his colleague, Ara Avrigian, said there was no doubt after extensive pre-trial discovery that the negligence of the defendants contributed to Crozier’s 30-foot fall on New Year’s Day after a night of partying in the fraternity house (3539 Locust Walk) on the University of Pennsylvania campus. The fraternity was supposed to have been alcohol free under a no-booze policy it adopted in 2000. “The frat’s policy was a sham and everybody knew it,” said Mongeluzzi. “It was “Animal House” and it was only a matter of time before its utter disregard for its own rules would prove deadly.”
Crozier was a star basketball player at LaSalle College High School and a standout on the team at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was a junior at the time of his death.
“If the case had gone to trial, a jury would have been repulsed by the multitude of failures by Phi Kappa Sigma and the other defendants. Combined their negligence clearly led to the death of an extraordinary young man with the brightest of futures,” said Mongeluzzi. “The fraternity, besides permitting excessive alcohol consumption by minors on its property, was repeatedly directed by the University to upgrade its inadequate railing to conform with building codes, and it did nothing,” he explained.
“If only a simple, inexpensive fix had been made to have a height-compliant railing, Matt would likely be alive today,” said Avrigian. “There will never be true closure for Matt’s parents, but they hope this case sends a message to those responsible for the safety and welfare of their children on college campuses across the country.”
During discovery, Mongeluzzi’s team obtained testimony from experts that documented how the fraternity, founded on campus in 1850 and known as “the Skulls”, knowingly ignored for at least five years prior to the accident the University demands to upgrade the deficient railing.