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Archive for Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Family sues KU, fraternity for teen’s role in fatal accident

February 12, 2002

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It's been more than a year since Sean Scott, then 16, spent time drinking at a Lawrence bar and a Kansas University fraternity, and then killed a woman while driving drunk.

Monday a lawsuit was filed in Douglas County District Court alleging negligence on the part of KU and the local chapter and national organization of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity for allowing the underage Shawnee boy to drink alcohol.

Also named as defendants in the lawsuit for allegedly providing alcohol to Scott on Sept. 16, 2000, are his stepfather, Lawrence Rieke, Merriam; his mother, Dana Rieke; and KU student Barrett A. Bottemuller.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of James Bland, Lawrence, the husband of Felicia Bland, the 39-year-old woman killed in the accident, and their daughter, Michaela Renee Rodriquez, 16.

Scott is now in a two-year intensive probation program, to be followed by three years of standard probation. He was convicted in Johnson County last year of involuntary manslaughter.

Lawrence Rieke was recently charged in Douglas County with six counts of providing alcohol to a minor in connection with Felicia Bland's death.

Bland and Michaela, also known as Kylie, seek more than $75,000 in damages for each of six counts alleging negligence.

KU officials said they had not seen the lawsuit and declined to comment. No one would comment at the Phi Gamma Delta house, 1540 La. Calls to Phi Gamma Delta Inc., in Lexington, Ky., were referred to its executive director, Robert E. Baney. He was not available for comment.

Lawrence Rieke's attorney, John Ivan, Merriam, did not return a phone call, and Bottemuller couldn't be reached for comment.

The lawsuit alleges the Riekes provided beer and shots of tequila to Sean Scott, his brother, Mike Scott, and two other minors while at The Wheel, 507 W. 14th St.

Sean Scott then went with Mike Scott to Phi Gamma Delta, where Mike was a member, and consumed more alcoholic beverages, the lawsuit alleges. Bottemuller, also then a fraternity member, is accused of providing alcoholic beverages to Sean Scott.

"We believe that both KU and the fraternity have a responsibility that they didn't live up to," said James Bland's Roeland Park attorney, Dan Church.

The Phi Gamma Delta organization has rules and regulations that are intended to control alcohol consumption within its fraternities, Church said.

In addition, KU has been on notice about alcohol problems because of prior incidents and complaints involving fraternities and social organizations related to the university, according to the lawsuit.

About 8:30 p.m. Sean Scott was driving eastbound on Kansas Highway 10 to return to Johnson County when he lost control of the car he was driving and crossed the median, the Kansas Highway Patrol said.

The car collided with a car Felicia Bland was driving westbound.

Tests showed Sean Scott's alcohol content was measured at 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit.

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