University, Fraternity Reach Settlement with Family in Fire Death Lawsuit

LINCOLN, Neb.

After filing a wrongful death lawsuit against Nebraska Wesleyan University and its Phi Kappa Tau fraternity for the death of their son because of a campus fire, the family has reached a settlement.

The Grand Island Independent reports that as a result of the settlement, the lawsuit was dismissed Jan. 22. Details of the settlement have not been disclosed.

In November 2006, Ryan Stewart, 19, died of smoke and soot inhalation shortly after a fire started in the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house. It is believed that the blaze started in a second-story room at the house.

Three other students were hospitalized during the incident, which is said to have started shortly after fireworks were set off in or around the fraternity house.

However, the victim’s family later sued both the university and the fraternity, citing substandard safety conditions, as the house did not have a fire sprinkler system. At the time, none was required. Since the fire, sprinkler systems have been installed in buildings across the campus, reports The Grand Island Independent.

The Phi Kappa Tau chapter at the university was suspended for four years after an investigation into the deadly fire and alleged hazing.

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