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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Douglas County judge rules father of Jason Wren cannot seek punitive damages from KU fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon

Jason Wren with his father, Jay.

Jason Wren with his father, Jay.

December 17, 2010

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Related document

Plaintiff's Motion in Jason Wren Lawsuit ( .PDF )

Related document

Defendant's Motion in Jason Wren Lawsuit ( .PDF )

A Douglas County judge Friday ruled the father of Jason Wren, a Kansas University student who died in 2009 from alcohol poisoning, could not seek punitive damages in a lawsuit against his son’s fraternity.

“There was no involvement on the night of Jason Wren’s death by anybody associated with the housing corporation or the national fraternity that caused or contributed to that death,” said Michael Seck, an attorney representing the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternal Association and Kansas Alpha House Corp.

But District Judge Michael Malone did decide that John Stacy, the president of the fraternity’s housing corporation, which owns the chapter house, 1301 W. Campus Road, could be added as an individual defendant in the suit.

“We believe that he has the authority to make the decisions regarding the rules and regulations that are followed pertaining to alcohol consumption,” an attorney Stephen Gorny representing Wren’s father, Jay, said in court. “I know that he was aware that underage alcohol consumption went on in the house and did not ban it.”

Wren, a 19-year-old KU freshman from Littleton, Colo., was found dead March 8, 2009, at the SAE house after a night of heavy drinking. His death was one event that put a spotlight on underage drinking on the KU campus.

In the lawsuit, Wren’s family alleges fraternity members failed to seek medical help for their son despite his intoxication and a head injury. Wren had used a fake ID earlier in the night to drink alcohol at a restaurant. He then continued to drink beer and liquor later at the chapter house, according to the suit.

Wren was living there as a pledge after he violated KU’s alcohol policy and was no longer allowed to live in a KU residence hall. According to the autopsy, Wren’s blood-alcohol content was 0.362 percent, more than four times the legal limit to drive in Kansas.

Gorny has argued the SAE chapter has not changed its practices regarding underage drinking in the house since Wren’s death and that Stacy has resisted calls from national fraternity officials to make it a dry house.

But Seck has said fraternity leaders were unaware of any prior problems with alcohol consumption by minors in the house before Wren’s death. He has said the chapter has taken proper steps since March 2009 regarding prohibiting alcohol, including expelling nearly two dozen active members after an April 2010 alcohol violation.

Malone said the addition of Stacy as a defendant will delay future proceedings in the suit, including the trial originally scheduled for April.

Comments

Fatty_McButterpants 4 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Steve Jacob 4 years ago

"Cash in on a tragedy" is very rude. I think he is looking for someone to blame other then his son, but personal gain I am sure has nothing to do with this.

4theHawkS 4 years ago

TheWhirl and cheeseburger you should be ashamed of yourself for passing judgment on an issue you have little information on. Jay is seeking damages in order to create more awareness to the problem that is STILL just as prevelant as it was last april. The SAE house has always been known for excessive parties and having an open door policy towards drinking. The SAE housing board Pres doesn't want to ban alcohol on the property because that is the main recruiting tool they have. The house itself wouldn't exsist without the housing authority keeping it afloat financially. Less than 5 years ago they had about 13 members living in the house and the members did their best to uphold the Sleep And Eat SAE nickname. I think it is a travesty that this situation has lead to subsequent suicides and all that is left to fight for is to change the cycle of blatant disregard to laws and safety guidelines. To propose that a grieving father would exploit the situation to financially benefit is a disgusting notion that only a monster could conjure.

rtwngr 4 years ago

I have some experience in this area and with this particular house. We parents don't "let" our kids move into one of these houses. When a kid turns 18, a parent can't stop them. However, as a parent, you don't have to pay the bill either. Which I didn't. That took care of that.

laxn 4 years ago

the people responsible are those that provided the alcohol and a place fopr minors to drink it. The people responsible are those that continuosly gave out drinks with no regard for the welfare of others at the party. Jason got excessivly drunk... yes. But as im sure everyoen else in the world has... you take care of your friends when they are in a bad place or need to be cut off. If you dont... your a terrible person. The people responsible are SAE!

Mean_Green 4 years ago

Darwin at work thining the herd.

ksarmychick 4 years ago

And instead of blaming others for his family's deaths, he should be putting all of his effort into raising his remaining child. Making sure she doesn't follow the same paths as his other children and wife.

Jock Navels 4 years ago

i look at the picture of this kid and i think...like whatever, dude.

Robert Rauktis 4 years ago

Dad needs to not look to the courts, but rather into a mirror.

Like fat people blaming McDonalds.

rtwngr 4 years ago

This house should be booted the heck off of campus. It has a long history of alcohol abuse. Waking up pledges in the middle of the night to drink copious amounts of hard liquor occur. The darn place burned to the ground several years ago. Too bad it was rebuilt.

Moondance 4 years ago

Hmmmm...when I was a pledge at SAE, I was NEVER woke up in the middle of the night to drink any alcohol! If they treated you like that during your pledge semester, it was because they realized they made an error in judgement. But I doubt you were ever a pledge at SAE, therefore you know very little about it. This was a tragic event involving adults making adult decisions. Phi Alpha my brothers

laxn 4 years ago

I find it interesting that at the Jason's remeberence, held at SAE, the president of the chapter said they would become a dry house in his honor... i should know as i was there. I knew Jason and for everyone on here that feels ok bad mouthing a person and their family can grow up. Seeking monetary reimbursement for a loss in which multiple members of the frat were negligent in taking care of a "brother" seems fine to me. Yes he was intoxicated but after falling down the stairs and receiving a concussion, you would think that if any of them actually had a decent bone or feeling in their body they would have helped. The judge makes a decision fine... but SAE needs to be punished in some form!

Hoots 4 years ago

The kid was thrown out of the dorms for abusing alcohol. He probably showed signs of binge drinking prior to leaving for college. I'm not a big fan of the entire greek system but this tragedy was in the making well before he attended KU or moved into the frat house. I wonder if his family chose to ignore some of the warning signs. Being ejected from campus housing should have thrown up a big red flag for his father. Families don't want to confront these kinds of issues often to a sad ending.

Fatty_McButterpants 4 years ago

My comment gets removed for stating the reputation of the SAE house (a large group of people), yet other comments are allowed to remain which are clearly libelous of the father? Nice job LJ-World. What a joke of journalistic integrity.

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