Premises Liability Lawsuit Filed After Sexual Assault at University of Maine Fraternity Party.

Property owners are responsible for maintaining a relatively safe environment when guests enter their property.  Premises liability holds property owners and residents liable for accidents or injuries that occur on their property.  Liability can also depend on the status of the visitor, the condition of the property, and the actions of the visitor.

In order for a plaintiff to successfully recover damages in a premises liability lawsuit, he or she must prove that there was a breach of duty by the property owner or resident, and that the breach of duty caused his/her injuries.

In 2010, a former University of Maine female student attended a fraternity party at the Gamma Nu fraternity house, where Joshua Clukey, a member of the fraternity, sexually assaulted her.  Although both students were drinking alcohol at the party, the victim reported the incident the next day to school officials. Clukey was expelled from the university and pleaded guilty to assault and furnishing alcohol to a minor.

According to the Bangor Daily News, the victim also filed a lawsuit against Delta Tau Delta, the Greek parent organization of Gamma Nu.  In a 3-2 decision, the Maine Supreme Court recently ruled that the fraternity “owed a duty to its collegiate chapters’ social invitees sufficient to support [the plaintiff’s] claim based on premises liability.”  The justices ruled that the fraternity was responsible for this duty, instead of the corporation that owned the building where the fraternity house stood.  Justice Joseph Jabar wrote in his majority opinion, “We conclude that [Delta Tau Delta] had a duty to exercise reasonable care and take reasonable steps to provide premises that are reasonably safe and reasonably free from the potential of sexual misconduct by its members, for all social invitees to chapter-sponsored events.”  This case will now be remanded to Penobscot County Superior Court and will be heard before a new judge.  Thomas Douglas represents the plaintiff.

Please contact our expert Boston, Massachusetts premises liability lawyers at 617-787-3700 or if you believe you or a loved one has suffered injuries from an unsafe or defective condition on someone’s property.

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