Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Tort/Negligence – Duty – Off-Campus Fraternity Party – Personal Injury – Party Crasher – Ejection

Tort/Negligence – Duty – Off-Campus Fraternity Party – Personal Injury – Party Crasher – Ejection

Mynhardt v. Elon University (Lawyers Weekly No. 12-07-0472, 15 pp.) (Linda M. McGee, J.) Appealed from Alamance County Superior Court. (Howard E. Manning Jr., J.) N.C. App. Full-text opinion.

Holding: Even though the defendant-university and the defendant-national fraternity organization knew that some off-campus fraternity parties were violating university and fraternity rules, these defendants nevertheless owed no duty to plaintiff, an uninvited guest to one of those parties.

We affirm summary judgment for the university and the national fraternity organization.

Plaintiff crashed a party at an off-campus house rented by members of the Delta Pi Chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha. Plaintiff was seriously injured and left paralyzed when defendants Blackburn and Cassady forcefully removed him from the house.

The university regulates the Greek organizations on its campus. Both the university and Lambda Chi were aware of violations involving the defendant Delta Pi Chapter (the Chapter), including alcohol violations, hazing, and arrests for marijuana offenses, and some of these incidents occurred off-campus. Both the university and Lambda Chi had the authority to sanction the Chapter for rules violations.

When a defendant voluntarily undertakes to provide needed services to a plaintiff when otherwise the defendant would have no obligation, the defendant must exercise due care in that voluntary undertaking.

Plaintiff argues, “Defendants voluntarily undertook to provide services to, and to impose supervision, regulation, enforcement, and control over, [the Chapter] and students participating in Greek organizations or at ‘Greek’ events for the protection of students such as [plaintiff].”

However, in Hall v. Toreros, II, Inc., 176 N.C. App. 309, 626 S.E.2d 861 (2006), this court rejected plaintiff’s argument that the adoption of regulations for the purpose of protecting a class of people constitutes a voluntary undertaking that creates a duty to that class of people that would not otherwise exist.

We want to encourage universities and Greek organizations to adopt policies to curb underage drinking and drinking-related injuries or other incidents. Adopting such policies does not make a university or Greek organization an insurer of every student, member, or guest who might participate in off-campus activities. Defendants assumed no duty to protect plaintiff from drinking-related injuries at an off-campus party.

Additionally, no special relationship resulting in the imposition of a duty existed between the university and plaintiff when plaintiff voluntarily, and uninvited, attended an off-campus party of which the university had no knowledge. No special relationship existed on these facts between Lambda Chi and plaintiff, either.

Plaintiff provides no specific support for his argument that the Chapter was the agent of the university and Lambda Chi in this situation. After thorough research, we conclude this is because no such authority exists. We decline to make new law by recognizing an agency relationship between plaintiff and any defendants on the facts of this case.



Top Legal News

See All Top Legal News


See All Commentary