Cambridge resident’s wrongful death suit dismissed

A wrongful death lawsuit filed against Harvard University and three school employees has been dismissed by a Massachusetts court, which ruled that the university couldn’t be held liable for the conduct of an individual in his private living quarters.

The wrongful death lawsuit stemmed from the fatal shooting of a Cambridge resident in 2009, in the basement of the Kirkland House on Harvard’s campus. The shooting was related to a drug deal that went awry.

The mother of the man murdered in the building said the university failed to uphold its duty to protect the young man because his murderer had lived in Lowell House for several months in violation of the school’s housing rules. The murderer and his host, who was his girlfriend, did not receive permission from the Lowell House Master to reside in the room for more than two nights — a Harvard campus rule.

The lawsuit contended that officials knowingly allowed a nonstudent to live on campus for an extended period of time, and in doing so created a dangerous scenario that led to one student’s murder.

Testimony from the murder trial revealed that the killer and two other men cornered the other man, who was known to sell marijuana to Harvard students. The three aggressors demanded that he hand over all of the drugs he was carrying. The man refused, and he was then shot. The murderer was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Lawyers representing Harvard contended that the school had no duty to provide safety from an outsider who came onto campus with intent to do harm.

Source: The Crimson, “Cosby Wrongful Death Suit Against Harvard Dismissed,” Matthew Q. Calrida, Jan. 15, 2013