The Marshall University Board of Governors was recently granted dismissal of a lawsuit in which it was named defendant. The claim was dismissed because the plaintiff in the case failed to meet the pre-suit notice requirement under the West Virginia code, which requires notice of the claim and relief sought, sent to the defendant by certified mail at least 30 days prior to the filing of the suit. Pre-suit notice is typically not required under West Virginia law, except when the defendant is a healthcare provider or a governmental agency, as in this case.
The case arose out of an interesting fact pattern, whereby one student was attempting to shoot bottle rockets out of his rectum during a fraternity party.
According to the plaintiff, during a house party in May of 2011, one young man became intoxicated, and decided to attempt to “shoot bottle rockets out of his anus on the [fraternity house] deck.” In doing so, he startled the plaintiff, who then jumped backwards, causing him to fall off of the deck of the fraternity house, and becoming injured in the process. He was reportedly lodged between the deck and an air conditioning unit for some period of time. The plaintiff further alleges that there was no railing on the deck at the time of the incident, and that this condition had existed for several months, if not years, prior to the fall.
The suit claims that the fraternity was negligent in failing to provide a safe deck, and that the young man attempting the fireworks was at fault for his actions, which involved consuming alcohol that is known to potentially lead to dangerous activities.