Archive for Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Settlement reached in lawsuit filed after death of Jason Wren from alcohol poisoning at KU’s SAE house

April 5, 2011, 3:34 p.m. Updated April 5, 2011, 7:40 p.m.


An attorney for the father of a Kansas University freshman who died in 2009 from alcohol poisoning at Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity said Tuesday a Douglas County lawsuit “has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.”

Jay Wren filed the lawsuit in 2009 against the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity chapter, its national association, the local housing corporation and president John Stacy and other defendants.

“Underage drinking should not have but did occur inside the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter house at KU. Said underage drinking included Jason Wren and other minors,” according to a statement released by Stephen Gorny, Wren’s attorney. “The parties are pleased that the Jason Wren Initiative will continue on a yearly basis and hope that the education it provides will assist in preventing similar tragedies.”

Jason Wren, a 19-year-old freshman from Littleton, Colo., was found dead March 8, 2009, at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter house, 1301 West Campus Road.

The lawsuit alleged fraternity members failed to seek medical help for Wren despite his intoxication and a head injury. Wren had used a fake ID earlier that night to drink alcohol at a restaurant and continued to drink liquor later at the chapter house, according to the suit. The lawsuit was filed against the chapter and its national association, 10 unnamed chapter members, the Kansas Alpha House Corp., which owns the chapter house, and Stacy, the house corporation’s president.

The Jason Wren Initiative is a seminar conducted on the KU campus in April 2010 aimed at providing education about underage drinking. It was organized by the SAE chapter, its national association and foundation in conjunction with the Delta Gamma Sorority’s KU chapter.

Wren’s death was one of several tragedies that put the spotlight on underage drinking at KU.

The second installment of the initiative will be 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, in the auditorium in room 120 at Budig Hall, 1455 Jayhawk Blvd. Coffee and dessert will follow at the SAE chapter house. Kristin Wing, who is now an SAE chapter adviser, said 750 people attended last year’s seminar.

“What this does is not only a reminder that we have to be thoughtful and cautious in what we do,” Wing said, “but it also gives these students permission to start a dialogue on what’s healthy and what isn’t healthy. And that they’ve got to watch out for each other.”

She said organizers have asked greek chapters to have at least 20 percent of their members attend, but it’s open to all KU students.

Jason Wren was living in the SAE house as a pledge because he was no longer allowed to live in a KU residence hall because he’d violated the university’s alcohol policy. According to the autopsy, his blood-alcohol content was 0.362 percent, which is more than four times the legal limit to drive in Kansas.

The plaintiffs argued in court last year the chapter had not changed its practices enough regarding underage drinking since Wren’s death. However, attorneys for the fraternity and housing corporation said the chapter has taken proper steps, including expelling nearly two dozen active members after an April 2010 alcohol violation.

The parties last month had indicated to District Judge Michael Malone that a settlement was in the works. Tuesday’s statement was the first indication publicly from the sides the suit was resolved, but court personnel said Tuesday nothing had yet been officially filed in district court regarding the settlement.

Tuesday’s statement did not detail any terms of the settlement. When reached Tuesday, Jay Wren declined to comment.

“The parties have no further comment on the resolution of this case,” the statement said.

A previous version of this story listed the incorrect location for the 2011 installment of the Jason Wren Initiative.


Loretta James 7 years, 2 months ago

Fine students for drinking. Housemothers in all student housing that check on students in their rooms. this man would still be alive is someone had gotten him some help earlier. Most house mothers are retired judges wives, whom do not need the money or the job. lots of people needing jobs. put some younger people to work and maybe save a life the next time. Prayers to his family I can only imagine their grief from the loss of their child.

Eddie Muñoz 7 years, 2 months ago

He might, if you think he wouldn't have learned to drink from his college friends and fraternity brothers. I don't think laying the full blame on the father in this case the way to go.

xclusive85 7 years, 2 months ago

This also may not last long...

What family? There is only Jay left! Such a tragic story of the effects of alcohol on one family.

yoyogirl 7 years, 2 months ago

There are only two family members left bootlegger. The sister and mother committed suicide following Jason's death......the whole thing is SAD. Plus the money was going to charity.

Shardwurm 7 years, 2 months ago

I didn't realize that...I just checked online to be sure.

Wow...what a horrible, horrible tragedy.

Jim Williamson 7 years, 2 months ago

No more calls, please. We have a winner.

Maybe now that this is settled, the dad can quit blaming everyone else but himself for this tragedy.

killfloor 7 years, 2 months ago

Sorry but alcoholics don't die of alcohol poisoning. They have a higher tolerance to alcohol. He died of alcohol poisoning because he was ONLY 19 and couldn't handle his liquor. Just because he got in trouble for alcohol before does not make him an alcoholic, it makes him a teenager who went off to college and made some poor decisions.

killfloor 7 years, 2 months ago

Agreed but none2 said he was an alcoholic before he went to the frat. I was just explaining that alcoholics don't die from alcohol poisoning. Usually its liver failure.

Zachary Stoltenberg 7 years, 2 months ago

It's hardly fair to say he was in a frat, he had moved into the house that morning after getting kicked out of the dorms for alcohol violations. He was not a fraternity member, he was a pledge who was joining because he wanted to continue to drink and party.

Eddie Muñoz 7 years, 2 months ago

Only if the fraternity had a rules against over/under eating or having unsafe sex in the house like they did against underage drinking.

Kim Murphree 7 years, 2 months ago

I get the "personal responsibility" argument, but really??? This kid was 19--at a frat party--we all know the problem is WAY too much alcohol at these events for young people who have no real idea what "alcohol poisoning is---and until the organizations are more accountable--the binge will continue--the paradigm needs to change--needs to get back to "brotherhood" and "sisterhood" which meant taking care of each other--if someone, anyone, at the fraternity had been following that ethic--someone would have noticed he was in trouble and called for medical help or taken him to the hospital.

kseagle 7 years, 2 months ago

Heaven forbid someone takes responsibility for their own actions. SHEESH!

woodscolt 7 years, 2 months ago

Heaven forbid that an organization habitually provide these illegal settings. How about the organizations cease to exist if they ever get caught once promoting these atmospheres and how about some personal responsibility. This would likely be a cure. The Jason Wrens would live on.

Loretta James 7 years, 2 months ago

when your that drunk you cant take charge of anything your past making any judgement calls.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 2 months ago

Most of the actors from 1978's "Animal House" are old enough to be this kid's grandparent (were he still alive.)

Aren't we passed this whole 'greek system' thing yet? There are still plenty of greek organizations doing a great job of living up to that 1978 movie's reputation.

Disco died, but greek lives on?

woodscolt 7 years, 2 months ago

Gotta maintain that social pecking order I suppose. Sad that the greek systems systemically promote underage drinking. They would fix it if they had to to maintain existence. Sad but true, their will be more jason wrens.

somedude20 7 years, 2 months ago

I just saved 25% on my car insurance by switching to GEICO. Do people still eat Zagnuts? I wonder if monkeys like wearing human clothes? Are women really that smart or is Dr. Phill just that stupid? Is Judge Wapner still alive. How many people think that Judge Reinhold is really a judge? Lastly, does anyone really know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall

Vinny1 7 years, 2 months ago

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smokey99 7 years, 2 months ago

This is such a tragic story. I feel the saddest because a young man lost his chance to live a productive life. But that is a result of poor choices the young man made himself...not anyone else made...but HIM . And yet, the dad is going to make a nice little bundle....GOD LOVE AMERICA !!!!!! And yoyogirl......Money going to charity??? RIGHT!!!!! When you see "dad" driving down the road in his new pick up pulling his new boat, we will know his pain is easing!

sad_lawrencian 7 years, 2 months ago

Whatever happened to college kids taking responsibility for their actions? If Jason Wren killed himself from drinking too much alcohol, exactly how is this the fault of anyone other than Jason? I don't see how the fraternity, etc. can be found liable, even reach a settlement. This kid did it to himself. It's crazy these kids don't take responsibility. 19 is a legal adult last time I checked.

angel4dennis 7 years, 2 months ago

He used a fake id to drink earlier. Sounds to me the boy made a decision to drink on his own. As sad of a story this is, why should the school be liable? So ultimately anyone seeking a degree in the future from KU can expect the rates to increase to cover not only the cost of the lawsuit but the settlement as well. I am sorry for the loss of his son. His son made a choice, a bad choice but a choice. It is just unfortunate that tragedy struck. Had the underage boy been drinking and driving, would this settlement have been the same?

Russell Fryberger 7 years, 2 months ago

With all the college drinking movies out there glorifying it it's no wonder we don't have a lot more deaths like this.

shotgun 7 years, 2 months ago

I don't see where the frat is so innocent. The dude needed medical attention. No one helped. What a bunch of hateful comments over such a tragedy!

pace 7 years, 2 months ago

Anyone who thinks KU Frats should not be held responsible for their part is wrong. The boy, environment, family influence, all factors but the frats in this town have been out of control for decades, as an alcoholic culture. It will take will effort and concentrated effort to change the local frat culture.

BlackVelvet 7 years, 2 months ago

Well, I'm glad that it's finally over. I'm so tired of listening to daddy blame everyone but himself for fhe tragic death of his son. Had daddy done something before his son came to KU, perhaps Jason would be alive today. Had daddy, who knew his son had a drinking problem, NOT let Jason move into a Fraternity, perhaps Jason would be alive today. But in today's society, everything bad is someone else's fault. Period. At least it's over. finally.

Kontum1972 7 years, 2 months ago

i was in a fraternity and we drank..but no one ever OD'd on drinking..we did get pretty hammered,,,but we never had this kind of problem...and my fraternity still doesnt...we cared about each other...and we still do even as alumni.

That pretty much went for all the other fraternitys on campus..and we didnt have a house mom the only thing we face now is old age...LoL!

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