Settlement reached in wrongful death case involving coed

Tragedies can occur during the most unusual and unsuspecting situations. Sometimes, these tragedies are due to negligence and lead to wrongful death lawsuits. And some of these situations take place on college campuses. Such was the case in the tragic death of a 20-year-old Connecticut college student three years ago, leading to a recent legal settlement.

In early November, the family of Caitlin Nelson reached a settlement with Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, which agreed to pay an undisclosed amount stemming from the woman’s death. The victim died while participating in a university-sponsored charitable event in which she choked to death during a charitable pancake-eating contest in March 2017.

Victim died during charitable event

When one learns about wrongful death situations on college campuses, incidents involving alcohol, prescription drugs and controlled substances come to mind. Mayhem, foolish behavior, irresponsibility and negligence often are cited in college campus deaths.

However, in this recent settlement case, only irresponsibility and negligence come into play. The victim collapsed during an on-campus charitable event to raise funds for the nonprofit Prevent Child Abuse America. After Nelson began choking, police officers called to the scene were unsuccessful in clearing the victim’s airway. Medical teams transported her to two different hospitals before physicians determined that Nelson sustained severe brain damage due to oxygen deprivation.

The victim’s family filed its lawsuit, claiming the school did not have effective medical personnel at the site of the contest. In turn, the university filed a lawsuit against its food service provider and claimed the company – Chartwells – was responsible for the victim’s death. The university contended that Chartwells recommended, prepared and served Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes for the charitable contest.

Not all wrongful death cases lead to settlements. Sometimes, negligent parties fight at every step to avoid responsibility, Courtroom trials often provide the necessary outcome and closure for families dealing with the unfortunate tragic death of a loved one.