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#1413554 - 08/20/13 10:53 PM Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall
newsman38 Offline
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Registered: 03/21/01
Posts: 4058
Loc: Fourth Estate
Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall: court

ITHACA — Cornell University may be liable for the 2010 death of an intoxicated student who ran off the edge of a cliff in the middle of the night, a local judge has held.

Tompkins County Supreme Court Justice Phillip Rumsey found that Cornell cannot claim immunity because the victim, sophomore Khalil Jamal Godfrey King, was not using the trail for recreational purposes. Instead, the judge ruled, King was drunkenly running through the woods for unknown reasons when he left the marked trail, passed through a split-rail fence and plunged into the Fall Creek Gorge.

The court also rejected defense arguments that the gorge is an open and obvious danger, and Cornell had no duty to warn of that danger or enclose the area.

King died in the early morning on August 28, 2010 after falling from a cliff over two hundred feet tall into the Fall Creek gorge on the Cornell campus. At the time of death, King had a blood alcohol level of 0.167 percent, more than twice the legal limit for driving and may have been smoking marijuana, according to the court papers.

His parents have sued the University, alleging negligence on the part of Cornell. The University, in turn, argued that it was immune under the General Obligations Law.

The judge found that if King had been hiking, the school would be immune. But “hiking” is defined by the state as “traversing land by foot or snowshoe for the purposes of pleasure or exercise,” and that is not what the student was doing at the time he was killed.

By: T. H. STEADY, CONTRIBUTOR
© Copyright 2013, The Ithaca Independent. All Rights Reserved

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#1413595 - 08/21/13 10:58 AM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: newsman38]
cwjga Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 4939
Loc: NY
OMG, unbelievable.

If The student was doing something that he was supposed to be doing then Cornell is not at fault. But because the student was doing something that he should not have been doing, it is not his fault. It is Cornell's fault.

Only in the liberal courts of the world.
_________________________
I had health insurance, but it didn't cover the murder of innocent children. So it was cancelled.

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#1413597 - 08/21/13 11:01 AM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: newsman38]
cwjga Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 4939
Loc: NY
For Twocats

Originally Posted By: cwjga
Ithaca: 10 square miles surrounded by reality.
_________________________
I had health insurance, but it didn't cover the murder of innocent children. So it was cancelled.

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#1413604 - 08/21/13 11:43 AM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: cwjga]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11782
Loc: NYS
Originally Posted By: cwjga
For Twocats

Originally Posted By: cwjga
Ithaca: 10 square miles surrounded by reality.


\:\)

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#1413613 - 08/21/13 12:22 PM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: twocats]
cwjga Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 4939
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: twocats
Originally Posted By: cwjga
For Twocats

Originally Posted By: cwjga
Ithaca: 10 square miles surrounded by reality.


\:\)



\:\)
_________________________
I had health insurance, but it didn't cover the murder of innocent children. So it was cancelled.

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#1413720 - 08/21/13 08:30 PM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: cwjga]
VM Smith Offline
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Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 37227
Loc: Ship of Fools
The judge is an idiot.
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Trying to have an intelligent discussion with a stupid person is a waste of time and effort.


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#1414315 - 08/26/13 02:53 PM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: VM Smith]
RentedMule Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/10/10
Posts: 16
Loc: NY
Negligence on the part of Cornell? Smart enough to get into Cornell...but needs to be told not to run off 200 ft cliff. Sounds like this kid was an accident waiting to happen, outside of being bubble wrapped. I suppose Cornell could build 'fences' around each student to prevent them from doing dumb stuff.

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#1414325 - 08/26/13 03:58 PM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: RentedMule]
cwjga Offline
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Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 4939
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: RentedMule
Negligence on the part of Cornell? Smart enough to get into Cornell...but needs to be told not to run off 200 ft cliff. Sounds like this kid was an accident waiting to happen, outside of being bubble wrapped. I suppose Cornell could build 'fences' around each student to prevent them from doing dumb stuff.


That would not work, according to article he climbed over the fence.

VM is right, the judge is an idiot. If Obama had half a brain he could see a big reason tuition is so high.
_________________________
I had health insurance, but it didn't cover the murder of innocent children. So it was cancelled.

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#1414417 - 08/27/13 10:07 AM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: cwjga]
BrumWife Offline
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Registered: 09/12/09
Posts: 117
Loc: Geneva
Ok I know that maybe no one is a lawyer here but this does not say that they found Cornell liable or that they were negligent. At least not yet. The judge has only ruled on using the General Obligations Law as a defense. This law has nothing to do with fault but how and when a person waives their right to sue and what compensation (legal uses the term consideration) they maybe owed.

For example under this law under, you maybe thought to waive your right to sue a gym if you decide to get in the boxing ring and become injured. You are aware of the obvious risks and choose to participate anyway. So the gym is immune. Cornell was trying to use this as a defense. And under the letter of the law the student was not hiking so not aware or participating in risks of hiking close to the gorge.

I know I know the student was participating and aware of the risks of drinking and drugs, but that is not the defense that Cornell was using, nor is a person being "under the influence" covered under the General Obligations Law.

Now Cornell will have to defend that they were not negligent in the type of fence or signage they use, knowing full well that college students tend to get drunk and do stupid stuff.

Unfortunately in today's sue happy society this stuff happens all the time. Hence the idiotic warning labels on products we normal folk find so funny. Their there because someone sued and and won for negligence.

Please don't get me wrong i don't believe this is Cornell's fault the kid made the choice to drink and drink to excess.

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#1414522 - 08/28/13 02:58 AM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: BrumWife]
Mrlibe2ride06 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/28/13
Posts: 2
Loc: Buffalo
Brumwife is correct. I ask all of the previous insensitive posters this with this in mind. None of us are lawyers nor are any of us familiar with the "real" facts of the case. We just know what the press has chosen to put out to the public. They chose for the sake of placing blame wholly on the student to portray him as some drunken kid who ran off a cliff for no apparent reason. He had consumed alcohol this much is true but a lot of kids who attend university do drink. Especially at Ivy League Universities like Cornell where the pressure of studies and exams can sometimes be overwhelming. What they failed to mention was that this kid was also a straight A student who was attending Cornell on a full academic scholarship. He was also very active in the community, did charity work and held a job every summer to help pay his expenses. That is something that was of course omitted from any article at the risk of making it sound as if this kid was worth caring about. That aside the General Obligations Law can be used as a defense to allow landowners to open their property to the public without risk of any liability if someone is injured or dies on their property. The landowner still has certain responsibilities such as maintaining the property and warning against dangers that are not open and obvious. 27 children have died in or around Cornell's gorges in the last 15 years. Surprising number isn't it?? But it has to be those 27 childrens fault because Cornell couldn't possibly be this negligent right?? It's all just coincidence right?? 2012 Cornell spends 1.5 million dollars installing safety nets under bridges and installing 7 ft high chain link fences around gorge trails. Wonder why they would do that? I mean if it was perfectly safe and those 27 children where all at fault why would they all of a sudden decide to spend almost 2 million dollars upgrading safety precautions around the gorges?? Well I'll tell you why just to save yourself a google. The fence between a well traveled trail (used by most of the student body of Cornell to travel from one side of the campus to the other) and about 50 feet of overgrown trees and vegetation was about 2 feet high and literally falling apart. The 50 feet between that fence and a 200 ft drop was overgrown with heavy vegetation and a thick tree-line so thick you couldnt tell where the gogre edge was on a well lit day. So if you couldn't see where the edge was during the day at night it is near impossible to tell. This is why the judge ruled against Cornell because the danger was not open and obvious. This wasnt the Judges first day in the job either so I assume he is well versed in the letter of rhe law. In the court documents he used Cornells own description of "hiking" from the language of a Evironmental report written by Cornells Environmental Department. So claiming the student was Hiking was also denied by the Judge. So after 27 deaths related to an obviously dangerous area (some alcohol related some not) they should know they have an problem. Instead of spending some of the 46,000 a student tuition money that good parents pay to circumvent an ongoing problem they ignored the problem and pointed the finger at the city of Ithaca to spend taxpayer money to install nets and fences. That was in 2009 and of course like any other decision that needed to be made it had to go through a board. The board never approved the project and more kids died until finally Cornell took it upon themselves to do the right thing. This all after God knows how many preventable deaths happened over the course of those 2 or 3 years. Kids are going to drink. Kids are going to party. That much is given. Cornell is located in a very unique area and as beautiful as it is. It is also dangerous. After the first few incidents you have to assume that the chance of future incidents happening is foreseeable and if something is foreseeable it is also preventable. Kids parents pay good money to Cornell for an education it is their responsibility to provide a safe environment for learning. By neglecting to take the proper steps to keep an area well maintained and safe you are by extension being negligent. If you don't know the facts and you assume that parents who seek justice for a negligent act are being "sue" happy or greedy then maybe you should ask yourself " what if that was my kid" what would you do then?? I did ask myself that question and that led me to do some investigating into the "Facts" of the situation on my own and not just state my opinion with no idea of what really happened.

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#1414530 - 08/28/13 07:41 AM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: Mrlibe2ride06]
cwjga Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 4939
Loc: NY
All I can say is you had better keep researching. You have a lot of miss-information in your post.

This link should help
http://admissions.cornell.edu/node/429
Does Cornell offer any scholarships?

Financial awards are all based on demonstrated financial need only. Cornell offers no athletic or merit scholarships. All Cornell scholarships that reward grades, leadership ability, or other special academic talents are need-based.
----------

The way we used to run around those gorges it is surprising that more injuries or deaths have not occurred. Then again we had a lot of injuries that were not reported, because what we were doing would have gotten us in trouble.

The danger is obvious, your words, that makes it extremely obvious that it Cornell is not liable.



Edited by cwjga (08/28/13 07:47 AM)
_________________________
I had health insurance, but it didn't cover the murder of innocent children. So it was cancelled.

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#1414581 - 08/28/13 12:30 PM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: Mrlibe2ride06]
RentedMule Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/10/10
Posts: 16
Loc: NY
Blame, blame, blame...blah blah blah. I'm not insensitive, I'm just tired of people constantly blaming/suing other people for everything. I went to Cornell, I drank & I frolicked in the gorges too. It doesn't take a 'Rocket Scientist' to recognize that there are dangerous areas of campus, especially around the gorges. I have slipped on the rocks, bruised my ribs ...should I have sued? Enough with the fences, nets & BS. The world is being overrun w/ 'Idiot Signs' & it's really ruining it for the rest of us. His family needs to accept that this was an unfortunate & sad ACCIDENT.

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#1414588 - 08/28/13 01:17 PM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: RentedMule]
cwjga Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 4939
Loc: NY
GO Big Red
_________________________
I had health insurance, but it didn't cover the murder of innocent children. So it was cancelled.

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#1414592 - 08/28/13 01:25 PM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: Mrlibe2ride06]
Sam the Sham Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/14/00
Posts: 603
Loc: USA
Quote:
27 children have died in or around Cornell's gorges in the last 15 years. Surprising number isn't it?? But it has to be those 27 childrens fault because Cornell couldn't possibly be this negligent right?? It's all just coincidence right?? 2012 Cornell spends 1.5 million dollars installing safety nets under bridges and installing 7 ft high chain link fences around gorge trails. Wonder why they would do that? I mean if it was perfectly safe and those 27 children


I am sorry for his parents' loss but nineteen years old is not a child or a kid.

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#1414597 - 08/28/13 02:11 PM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: RentedMule]
Mrlibe2ride06 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/28/13
Posts: 2
Loc: Buffalo
@cwjga in the intrest of not battling who knows more than who I would also suggest you do a lot more research.

http://www.finaid.cornell.edu/types-aid/grants-and-scholarships/cornell-grants-scholarships

Cornell does offer endowed scholarships to students who meet the donors criteria.
All students are considered at the submission of their application and offers are extended to need based students.

For everyone else. I chose to post a little more information so intelligent people could make an more informed decision. Not to place blame on Cornell or the student. Saying that you went to Cornell and swam in those gorges and never got hurt doesn't absolve Cornell of any responsibility to keep the area safe. If there was nothing wrong then they would have never decided to install nets and fences. Saying that signs and nets and safety precautions "ruin" it for the rest of it is like saying car brakes and seatbelts ruin the experience of driving. It isn't until you find yourself flying through a windshield that you think that having seatbelts is probably a good idea. It isn't for us to decide the merits or legitimacy of the case. If the case had no merit then the Judge wouldn't have allowed it to go forward. Nowhere in my post did I say that this danger was obvious. I said it was obvious after the 20 death that they had a problem. All the more reason that they should be held responsible. They knew they had a problem and decided to permit the status quo to go on. If anything I said that by nature of the overgrown vegetation and the thick tree-line the danger of finding your way to the edge of the gorge and a 200 ft drop was not obvious. I also attended Cornell and I was aware of deaths there and wondered why better fences where not in place and why more people never raised any questions. It was of course because cases never made it to trial because of Cornell's legal wranglings and their ability to keep cases in Tomkins County thereby securing that the good old boy system worked its magic. If the Judge went to Cornell and made donations to the alumni asssn. he is most likley gonna have a certain amount of bias. Case in point -
"In last month’s motion, Howard Ginsburg’s attorney argued that the judge in the case, David Hurd ’59, should recuse himself because of his ties to Cornell. The motion said that, in addition to being an alumnus, the judge is listed as an “honor roll donor” to the University and has acted as a judge in the law school’s moot court competition"
So of course this judge is going to be completely fair right??
So most of these cases never see the light of day. It isn't until recently with lawyers doing there due diligence and fighting that system also putting the pressure on the Judges to recuse themselves. So now the ability to get a fair hearing is more realistic. This is why cases are moving forward. Due process is a right of ever American. Saying that asking for justice because the status quo at Cornell is this or that is asking for more senseless deaths. Who knows next time it could be your child or mine. In that instance I hope you will be able to say that " It was just a sad unfortunate accident and that you should just accept it and do nothing" As I said I am not here to aurgue law and merits of law. I am saying before you write this child off as just another drunk kid and say Cornell has no liability you should look at the facts and put yourself in the shoes of the parents who lost their child. This world has become so numb to any feeling or empathy for anyone or anything. Shit happens is the mantra of the new generation and when you turn on the TV you see 100 tragedies a day. Each and every one of those tragedies has a story with real people at the heart of that story. The law will decide who is at fault and I am not saying their isn't any blame to be placed on this kid but their is also some blame to be placed on Cornell. How much remains to be seen....

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#1414606 - 08/28/13 02:26 PM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: Mrlibe2ride06]
Sam the Sham Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/14/00
Posts: 603
Loc: USA
Quote:
If there was nothing wrong then they would have never decided to install nets and fences.


In today's overly litigious society, where no one wishes to take responsibility for their own actions, people and institutions need to take precautions even when nothing is wrong.

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#1414614 - 08/28/13 02:52 PM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: newsman38]
VM Smith Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 37227
Loc: Ship of Fools
Someone who gets drunk and runs through the woods, at night, near a gorge, is the only one responsible for running through the fence and into the gorge. I don't look at it in legal terms, but in the context of self-ownership and personal responsibility for one's actions.
_________________________
Trying to have an intelligent discussion with a stupid person is a waste of time and effort.


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#1414637 - 08/28/13 04:05 PM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: Mrlibe2ride06]
cwjga Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 4939
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: Mrlibe2ride06
@cwjga in the intrest of not battling who knows more than who I would also suggest you do a lot more research.

http://www.finaid.cornell.edu/types-aid/grants-and-scholarships/cornell-grants-scholarships

Cornell does offer endowed scholarships to students who meet the donors criteria.
All students are considered at the submission of their application and offers are extended to need based students.

For everyone else. I chose to post a little more information so intelligent people could make an more informed decision. Not to place blame on Cornell or the student. Saying that you went to Cornell and swam in those gorges and never got hurt doesn't absolve Cornell of any responsibility to keep the area safe. If there was nothing wrong then they would have never decided to install nets and fences. Saying that signs and nets and safety precautions "ruin" it for the rest of it is like saying car brakes and seatbelts ruin the experience of driving. It isn't until you find yourself flying through a windshield that you think that having seatbelts is probably a good idea. It isn't for us to decide the merits or legitimacy of the case. If the case had no merit then the Judge wouldn't have allowed it to go forward. Nowhere in my post did I say that this danger was obvious. I said it was obvious after the 20 death that they had a problem. All the more reason that they should be held responsible. They knew they had a problem and decided to permit the status quo to go on. If anything I said that by nature of the overgrown vegetation and the thick tree-line the danger of finding your way to the edge of the gorge and a 200 ft drop was not obvious. I also attended Cornell and I was aware of deaths there and wondered why better fences where not in place and why more people never raised any questions. It was of course because cases never made it to trial because of Cornell's legal wranglings and their ability to keep cases in Tomkins County thereby securing that the good old boy system worked its magic. If the Judge went to Cornell and made donations to the alumni asssn. he is most likley gonna have a certain amount of bias. Case in point -
"In last month’s motion, Howard Ginsburg’s attorney argued that the judge in the case, David Hurd ’59, should recuse himself because of his ties to Cornell. The motion said that, in addition to being an alumnus, the judge is listed as an “honor roll donor” to the University and has acted as a judge in the law school’s moot court competition"
So of course this judge is going to be completely fair right??
So most of these cases never see the light of day. It isn't until recently with lawyers doing there due diligence and fighting that system also putting the pressure on the Judges to recuse themselves. So now the ability to get a fair hearing is more realistic. This is why cases are moving forward. Due process is a right of ever American. Saying that asking for justice because the status quo at Cornell is this or that is asking for more senseless deaths. Who knows next time it could be your child or mine. In that instance I hope you will be able to say that " It was just a sad unfortunate accident and that you should just accept it and do nothing" As I said I am not here to aurgue law and merits of law. I am saying before you write this child off as just another drunk kid and say Cornell has no liability you should look at the facts and put yourself in the shoes of the parents who lost their child. This world has become so numb to any feeling or empathy for anyone or anything. Shit happens is the mantra of the new generation and when you turn on the TV you see 100 tragedies a day. Each and every one of those tragedies has a story with real people at the heart of that story. The law will decide who is at fault and I am not saying their isn't any blame to be placed on this kid but their is also some blame to be placed on Cornell. How much remains to be seen....


And those endowed scholarships are still needs based, they replace Cornell Grant money, they do not add to it.

From your site.

A named endowed scholarship does not change the total amount of financial aid awarded.
Funds awarded through endowed scholarships replace the amount of any Cornell grant or self-help component (loans and work-study) on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
Scholarships are awarded to students who meet the criteria specific to each fund.

Still does not make Cornell liable.
_________________________
I had health insurance, but it didn't cover the murder of innocent children. So it was cancelled.

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#1414646 - 08/28/13 04:38 PM Re: Cornell may be liable for drunken run, gorge fall [Re: Sam the Sham]
VM Smith Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 37227
Loc: Ship of Fools
Originally Posted By: Sam the Sham
Quote:
27 children have died in or around Cornell's gorges in the last 15 years. Surprising number isn't it?? But it has to be those 27 childrens fault because Cornell couldn't possibly be this negligent right?? It's all just coincidence right?? 2012 Cornell spends 1.5 million dollars installing safety nets under bridges and installing 7 ft high chain link fences around gorge trails. Wonder why they would do that? I mean if it was perfectly safe and those 27 children


I am sorry for his parents' loss but nineteen years old is not a child or a kid.


Also, I think almost all of the 27 were suicides. In those cases, saying that the gorges are dangerous is like saying that trying to kill yourself is dangerous.
_________________________
Trying to have an intelligent discussion with a stupid person is a waste of time and effort.


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