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Family of slain UConn corner seeking $5 million from school

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Stabbed to death following an altercation at a school-sponsored dance in October of 2009, Jasper Howard‘s parents are seeking significant financial compensation for the parties they believe are at least partly responsible for their son’s death.

A Connecticut claims commissioner, the Hartford Courant writes, “is considering a request by Howard’s parents… to file a lawsuit against UConn for damages ‘in excess of ‘$5 million‘.”  The paper goes on to explain that “[t]he state, by law, enjoys immunity from most lawsuits unless the claims commissioner grants a request to sue.”

Months of depositions will take place before the claims commissioner makes a decision on whether a lawsuit against UConn should go forward.

A lawsuit against the company that provided security the night of their son’s death seeking unspecified monetary damages has already been filed.

The cornerback became mixed up in a confrontation involving a group of UConn students and a group of non-UConn students, altercations that allegedly took place both during the Oct. dance and after.  The non-UConn group went back to their vehicles following one of the verbal altercations, and at least two armed themselves with knives and returned to confront the group of UConn students.

Howard, along with teammate Brian Parker, was stabbed in what the family’s attorney claims was the third altercation involving the group of non-UConn students.  Howard, who was reportedly not involved in the original confrontation(s), died a short time later as a result of the injuries suffered in the stabbing.  Parker recovered from his injuries.

The school claims it is not responsible for Howard’s death and that the family should not be permitted to sue the university.

The murder of Jasper Howard was a terrible and senseless tragedy. Although we strongly condemn this brutal crime and continue to express our condolences to Jasper Howard’s family and friends, the State of Connecticut is not legally liable for his death,” Associate Attorney General Perry Zinn-Rowthorn and Assistant Attorney General Michael R. Bullers wrote in March 2011.

“The legislature has determined that the State – and by extension its taxpayers – shall only bear legal and financial responsibility for claims in which the State has caused the damage or injury that is the subject of the claim. Based on the foregoing, the [state] respectfully denies liability in this claim.”

In response to the civil suit, the company that provided security for the dance shot back that Howard himself was to blame for his death.

“Any injuries, damages or losses suffered by the plaintiffs’ decedent, Jasper Howard, were a direct and proximate result of the negligence and carelessness of Jasper Howard, and his own actions or inactions were the primary and substantial factor” in what happened to him.

Howard “initiated, instigated, caused and/or became involved “in either a “verbal altercation” or a “physical altercation,” or both, Paice wrote.

John Lomax was sentenced to 18 years in prison last March after pleading no contest to first-degree manslaughter in connection to Howard’s death.  Hakim Muhammad was sentenced to over two years for the stabbing of Parker.

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13 Responses to “Family of slain UConn corner seeking $5 million from school”
  1. seanb20124 says: May 26, 2012 3:19 PM

    Sue the killers

  2. jimbo75025 says: May 26, 2012 3:30 PM

    seanb20124 says:May 26, 2012 3:19 PM

    Sue the killers

    Yup. Sue those responsible (or ideally put on personal responsibility), not just those with deep pockets.

  3. Deb says: May 26, 2012 3:42 PM

    Yeah, suing has gotten out of hand. But this reads as though the dance was a school-sponsored event and the security company repeatedly let in non-students who were involved in at least three separate altercations. The non-students left the party to get weapons and were again granted access to the facilities/grounds before killing Howard. Don’t know if the family has a case against the school–but it does sound as though they have a grievance against the security company. What were the guards hired for that night if it wasn’t to keep out non-students and maintain order?

  4. surly1n1nd1anapol1s says: May 26, 2012 4:20 PM

    Did I read the stabbing occurred following three altercations? Perhaps walking away would be a good lesson.

  5. udtfrogmanvet says: May 26, 2012 5:14 PM

    Money is never going to bring their child back, but it’s a school sponsored event and I believe in accountability. The school and more importantly the security that was employed by the school are the ones accountable in this manner. Especially the security company! They are insured. I’d sue for much more, and I’d sue for defamation, too. How dare they blame that young man when this crap has gone on several times in the past.

    To the family…I’m sorry for your loss and God bless you.

  6. fatcamper says: May 26, 2012 5:34 PM

    I fail to see how the presence of insurance should warrant a bigger suit. If you feel that there was negligence that requires remedy it shouldn’t change based on having insurance or not. Simply because there is a deeper pocket doesn’t entitle somebody to more money.

    Testimony will be interesting if this is allowed to proceed. I imagine the security guards are going to state they emphasized students remain inside, but they ignored this and continued to interact with the non-students. I’d imagine in the chaos it was hard to determine who was and wasn’t a student.

    I believe people are personally accountable and if he was out there instigating a fight, which it sounds like he was, he is accountable for his actions.

  7. Deb says: May 26, 2012 6:05 PM

    @surlyinindianapolis and fatcamper …

    I can’t possibly argue that Howard was blameless based on what’s been posted. But how can you argue he was to blame based on what’s here?? He was a UConn student at a UConn dance. It wasn’t his job to keep out nonstudents–that’s what security is for. According to this article, he was not involved in the original altercation and it was the nonstudents who kept leaving and coming back–the final time after grabbing weapons. So fatcamper, since they were where they shouldn’t have been and they brought weapons into the situation, it sounds like they were the instigators.

    And the other article to which this story was linked said an unidentified person pulled the fire alarm, forcing all the students attending the dance out into the parking lot where Howard was attacked. So surlyinindianapolis, walking away wasn’t an option, either.

    Maybe you guys have other sources … or am I missing the invisible lines in this article that detail how Howard was the instigator of all this?

  8. fatcamper says: May 26, 2012 6:47 PM

    Fair enough, I will admit I didn’t read the linked articles but still fail to see negligence on the part of the school. It sounds like the school took reasonable actions to secure the dance.

    It is difficult for me to see the connection between the security having non-students leave (which it would appear they were doing as they went to the car), coming back, and killing a person; and negligence on the part of the school. I understand hired security is an agent of the school. I feel that the murderer is solely to blame for this unfortunate situation.

    You can have your opinion, but mine is that if they want to file a civil suit it should be against the party responsible and he is sitting in jail penniless unfortunately.

  9. Deb says: May 26, 2012 9:49 PM

    @fatcamper …

    No, I don’t really see the school as negligent, either–unless there’s something we don’t know. And usually I’d agree that criminals alone are responsible for their crimes. But it does sound as if the security firm may have done a poor job of providing security for this event.

  10. silverdeer says: May 27, 2012 9:30 AM

    Granted this was a senseless tragedy and I feel for the parents and family. However, there are some things to consider here:
    1. The dance was school sponsored event but was it a students only dance? I am guessing it was not, so how is the hired security going to identify who is supposed to be there and who is not? Were tickets sold? To prove negligence, the family is going to have to show that the security company did not perform reasonable action to separate the two parties. If they can’t, there should be no negligence.
    2. It takes two to tango, so for it to escalate to the point that it did, would leave me to reasonably believe that none of the parties involved were hurling verbal compliments at each other which continues to inflame the situation.

  11. dawglb says: May 27, 2012 9:43 AM

    Stick to your guns UC. Though this is a terrible tragedy, the fault is not yours.

  12. irishjackmp says: May 27, 2012 11:08 AM

    It seems our lawsuit happy culture is getting worse by the day.

    At this point our culture has now become “something awful happened to a loved one of mine so I’ll just sue whomever in the vicinity happens to have the deepest pockets”. Notice how lawsuits usually don’t target the actual killers but rather the people who have the deepest pockets? It’s not a coincidence. I am sure there will be angry supports of the family who will claim “this isnt about the money!!!” and if a word of that were true they’d be suing the killers instead.

    You can feel tremendous sympathy for the family but still feel like this is an absurd money grab lawsuit at the same time.

  13. dawglb says: May 27, 2012 11:14 AM

    @irishjackmp, well said!

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