U.Va. Balcony Lawsuit Settled
25, 2000 -- A third lawsuit arising from the collapse
of a balcony at the University of Virginias 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 estates beneficiaries filed a petition yesterday in
Charlottesville Circuit Court requesting approval of the settlement,
as required by state law.
month, lawsuits filed by Brashear and Judith Zura of Ellicott City,
Maryland, were settled with payments of $340,000 and $450,000, respectively,
from the states 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 their lives."
Albro, attorney for Zura, echoed these sentiments. "We are
always happy when our clients can be fairly compensated and avoid
risky and expensive litigation. 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 Commonwealths
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
Louise Dudley, (804) 924-1400