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Jury awards dead FDU student's family $260,000

MORRISTOWN, N.J. - A Morris County jury has found Fairleigh Dickinson University and junior Keith Orzech equally responsible for his fatal fall from a fourth-floor dorm window and awarded $260,000 to his parents.

Orzech, 21, of Sudbury, Mass., fell at the Madison-Florham Park campus in 2005 after drinking heavily, and family lawyer Barry Epstein maintained that FDU had failed to enforce its alcohol policies. The school allows 21-year-olds to drink with limitations at Madison-Florham Park.

FDU lawyer William Staehle said he would advise an appeal of Tuesday's verdict. He said he did not understand how the university and Orzech could be equally at fault when Orzech had been one of the hosts of a drinking party. Staehle said Orzech had violated rules prohibiting excessive drinking. Orzech's blood-alcohol level was 0.16 percent, twice the legal level that defines intoxication.

- AP