Cornell University and the city of Ithaca will be tried for negligence based on premises liability for wrongful death related to a student’s fatal leap from a bridge into a deep gorge on campus, a federal judge ruled.
Judge David Hurd (See Profile) also said the family of Bradley Ginsburg may pursue its claim against Cornell for personal injuries/conscious pain and suffering when Ginsburg v. City of Ithaca, 5:11-cv-1374, goes to trial in the Northern District.
The suit centers on whether the proper steps were taken to prevent student suicides when the Thurston Avenue Bridge was renovated in 2006 and 2007. The plaintiffs argue that the rebuilding of the bridge, from which Ginsburg leapt to his death in February 2010, gave the school and the city the perfect opportunity to redesign the span to deter jumpers.
“In light of the documented history of suicides on or near Cornell’s campus, especially those incidents involving the bridges and gorges, a reasonable juror could conclude that further suicide attempts from the Thurston Avenue Bridge were likely to occur and foreseeable,” Hurd wrote from Utica.
Between 1990 and 2010, 27 people killed themselves by jumping into Cornell’s gorges. Following six suicides in the 2009-10 school year, Cornell installed higher fences along the seven bridges and netting beneath them and, according to Hurd’s ruling, no suicides have occurred since.
Bradley Ginsburg’s father, attorney Howard Ginsburg of Boca Raton, Fla., is representing the Ginsburg family along with Kenneth McCallion of McCallion & Associates of Manhattan.
David Twichell of the Law Office of Theresa Puleo of Syracuse is representing Ithaca and Nelson Roth of the Office of University Counsel at Cornell is lead attorney for the college.