The parents of slain University of Connecticut football player Jasper Howard are seeking more than $5 million in damages from the school, claiming that UConn provided insufficient security and supervision for a 2009 dance on campus, after which Howard was stabbed to death, according to an article from The Hartford Courant.
Howard’s parents, Joanglia Howard and Alex Moore of Florida also have another lawsuit pending at Superior Court in Hartford against Jo-Ryu Security/Body Guard Service LLC of Hartford – the firm hired to provide nine security guards for the West Indian student organization dance, attended by some 350 people on Oct. 17, 2009, the article says. That suit seeks unspecified “money damages” for alleged negligence.
State lawyers say that the government is not responsible for what happened, stating that UConn and its police took reasonable precautions and acted responsibly, and that the security company did its job, the article says.
Joseph Foti, the lawyer for the Howard estate, said in his original October 2010 filing that “The University of Connecticut failed to provide adequate police officers for the large event and failed to properly supervise, monitor or investigate the security company [Jo-Ryu]. The entire event was understaffed and undermanned…”
He continued, the article reports, in saying that tickets to the homecoming weekend dance were sold to anyone, student or not, and people “were allowed to attend and enter without even checking for an ID.”
Lawyers from the attorney general’s office responded, however, saying that nine private security officers and three UConn police officers were more than sufficient staff for a routine dance of 350 people.
Foti is claiming that there had been a verbal altercation between a group of non-students and UConn football players inside the building, which went ignored by event security. This is denied by Jo-Ryu’s lawyer, the article says.
A fire alarm was pulled, and the two groups continued their verbal altercation outside, escalating to a physical altercation, at which point “no action was taken” by the police or security company “to separate these groups, despite this being the second time these two groups had gone at each other. Police and security merely told the group to calm down and let them walk away,” Foti wrote.
The non-students returned with knives, and while police, security personnel and fire personnel were attending to the evacuation, the third round of fights ensued, resulting in Howard’s stabbing, Foti said.
The state, by law, receives immunity from most lawsuits unless the claims commissioner grants a request to sue, the article says. J. Paul Vance, Jr., is considering Howard’s parents’ request, and he will be hearing months of sword depositions before making a decision on whether or not to let the $5 million lawsuit go to court.