A University of Pennsylvania fraternity has agreed that a deficient stairway railing at the frat house contributed to the death of a man who fell about 30 feet over it after a New Year's Eve party in 2011.
Phi Kappa Sigma International Fraternity Inc. agreed to pay over $3 million to the plaintiffs prior to the start of a wrongful death negligence trial. It also agreed to pay $375,000 to Suds Beer Store in Trevose, Bucks County.
Matthew Crozier, a 20-year-old John Carrol University student and former LaSalle College High School basketball standout, died in an apparent accidental fall from the second to the first floor during the party at the frat house at 3539 Locust Walk.
Robert J. Mongeluzzi, of Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett, and Bendesky, P.C., who represented Crozier's parents, along with colleague Ara Avrigian, said there was no doubt after extensive pre-trial discovery that the negligence of the defendants contributed to the death.
Mongeluzzi's team obtained testimony from experts that documented how the fraternity knowingly ignored, for at least five years prior to the accident, university demands to upgrade the deficient railing.
The frat house had established a no-booze policy 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."
"If only a simple, inexpensive fix had been made to have the height-compliant railing, Matt would likely be alive today," said Avrigian.