Parents sue UW fraternity for son's fall from window

Parents sue UW fraternity for son's fall from window »Play Video

SEATTLE -- Just two days after a University of Washington student fell to his death at his fraternity house, the parents of another student nearly killed the same way began what they say is their search for justice.

The Renton couple is suing the Delta Upsilon International Fraternity for the fall that left their son with serious injuries.

In April 2005, Erik Anderson fell from the window of his his fourth-story bedroom at the Delta Upsilon house. Anderson was asleep in his bed when he suddenly fell out of his window, plunging 45 feet down to the pavement below.

Anderson survived, but has spent nearly $280,000 on medical bills since. Now his parents want someone to pay.

The lawsuit filed by Anderson's parents blames several people for his fall. It says the fraternity failed to provide a safe living and sleeping space.

It claims Anderson's top bunk to which he was assigned had no safety railings and was placed next to a free-swinging window.

The suit also alleges the fraternity made repairs and changes to the bedroom windows without permits, making them even more dangerous.

The fraternity's alumni advisor is said to have gotten a good deal on the contractor for the window replacements, according to the suit, and that contractor, Caledonia Bay Builders, wasn't qualified to do the job.

Back in 2005, the university said Anderson had been drinking before he fell. The fall had taken place shortly after he had attended the fraternity's "Trashed Tuesday" party. Noting he was only 19 at the time, the lawsuit claims the fraternity failed to monitor underage drinking.

Anderson's attorney even alleges the fraternity encouraged underage drinking and says its members had so-called emergency procedures in place to cover it up. The procedures allegedly instructed members on what to say, how to remove evidence and hide underage drinkers from authorities.

No one at the fraternity was willing to answer questions and calls to the fraternity headquarters in Indianapolis were not returned.

Earlier this month, 21-year-old Kevin MacDonald, a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity from Kent, died after falling out of a window. Police said the window to MacDonald's third-floor bedroom was open and that he was either getting in or out of bed when he fell.

Six years ago another UW student was killed in a fall from the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. His parents sued and later settled out of court.

Delta Upsilon operates more than 80 undergraduate men's fraternity chapters in and outside the U.S.