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.