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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Lawsuit dismissed that alleged underage drinking led to head injury at KU fraternity

June 25, 2013

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A lawsuit filed by a Kansas University student against the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, alleging that the local chapter and its national organization permitted underage drinking that contributed to a severe head injury at the KU chapter’s house in March 2011, has been dismissed.

Andrew Charles Johnson, of Salina, was 20 when he filed the suit in Douglas County District Court on March 6, naming these defendants: the fraternity’s KU chapter; the chapter’s alumni board, which owns the Sig Ep house at 1645 Tennessee St.; the fraternity’s national corporate organization; and two fraternity members.

The suit was voluntarily dismissed by Johnson's attorneys earlier this month, according to court records. An attorney representing Johnson declined to comment on the case, and an attorney representing the defendants commented only to confirm the dismissal.

According to Johnson’s version of events, as outlined in court documents, he was 18 years old and living at the Sig Ep house on March 11, 2011, when he and other underage fraternity members drank alcohol at an off-site fraternity party. After the party, when he and other fraternity members returned to the house, Johnson said, he suffered what he called a "massive closed head injury" when another fraternity member rammed his head into a concrete wall.

The suit claimed the injury caused brain damage, permanently taking away Johnson’s sense of smell and leaving him with cognitive deficiencies. Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical confirmed that it responded to a medical emergency at the house that night. Johnson says he was first taken by ambulance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital and then transported by helicopter ambulance to KU Hospital in Kansas City, Kan.

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