Thursday, March 06, 2008

Murray State LKA's dismissed from Lawsuit

Judge dismisses 62 defendants from Yonts lawsuit:
Remaining respondents are Yonts, national fraternity, corporation that owns house, Murray bar
Bill Bartleman

A federal judge has dismissed 62 members of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at Murray State University from a wrongful death lawsuit filed after Harrison Yonts, one of its members, was involved in a fatal traffic crash.

Yonts struck and killed Nadia Shaheen on Nov. 11, 2005, after he left a party at the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house where alcohol was consumed.

Judge Thomas Russell's 10-page ruling said there is no evidence fraternity members provided Yonts with alcohol and that there is no law that required them stop him from driving, even if they thought he had too much to drink.

Russell said evidence indicates that Yonts took his own alcohol to the party.

The remaining defendants in the lawsuit filed by Shaheen's three children are Yonts, the Lambda Chi Alpha national fraternity, the corporation that owns the fraternity house where the party was held, and Nick's Family Sports Pub in Murray, which allegedly served Yonts alcohol on the evening prior to the wreck.

The lawsuit does not seek a specific amount of money.

Yonts of Greenville was convicted in Calloway Circuit Court of murder, drunken driving, tampering with evidence and leaving the scene of an accident. Shaheen, a 62-year-old Egyptian graduate student, was walking home after a late night of studying in a campus computer lab.

Yonts, 20 at the time, admitted in court documents that he was drinking at the fraternity party but denied driving his car when it struck Shaheen.

Yonts' 20-year sentence without the chance of parole for 17 years was reduced by former Gov. Ernie Fletcher to eight years without the chance of parole for nearly seven years. Yonts is at the Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange.

Russell also said in a hearing that Yonts will be required to answer questions as part of the evidence gathering in the lawsuit because appeals in the criminal case were dismissed in January. Russell had ruled earlier that Yonts did not have to answer questions until his criminal case was final.

Attorneys are expected to schedule his deposition within two months. It will be the first time Yonts has been required to answer questions under oath about the events of Nov. 11, 2005. He did not testify in his criminal trial.