settles third U.Va. balcony lawsuit
third lawsuit arising from the collapse of a balcony at graduation
three years ago has been settled for $750,000, pending court approval.
The Commonwealth agreed to settle claims filed on behalf of the
estate of Mary Josephine Brashear, the deceased wife of Thomas
Brashear of El Paso, Texas.
for the estate's beneficiaries filed a petition May 23 in Charlottesville
Circuit Court requesting approval of the settlement, as required
by state law. In April, lawsuits filed by Brashear and Judith
Zura of Ellicott City, Maryland, were settled with payments of
$340,000 and $450,000, respectively, from the state's risk management
fund. The Commonwealth, the University, and all of their employees
had denied any liability.
would be an unjust result to spend substantial funds litigating
these cases to a successful conclusion," said U.Va. President
John T. Casteen III. "All of us would rather see the
money go toward fairly compensating those who were injured."
Rasmussen, attorney for Brashear and the estate, said his clients
are pleased with the settlement. "We were ready and willing
to take our cases to the courts, but the Commonwealth had very
strong legal defenses that would have made our cases difficult.
Our clients can now put this matter behind them and move on with
Albro, attorney for Zura, echoed these sentiments. "I think
we all recognize these cases involved a unique set of facts about
a hidden defect in a historic building, and a unique area of law
regarding the Commonwealth's immunity from lawsuits."
officials said they remain confident that the Commonwealth and
the University employees would have prevailed in court, but obtaining
final judicial resolution would likely take several more years
and substantial investment of both public funds and the plaintiffs'
are two more lawsuits as yet unresolved, pending from the balcony