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University reaches settlement for 2010 wrongful death lawsuit case

Three years after the father of Andrea Robinson, who died of bacterial meningitis, sued the Ohio University and related officials for neglecting their duties, attorneys from the both sides settled on $1 million.

Ohio University reached a $1 million settlement on Friday for a wrongful death lawsuit filed after a student died in 2010.

Joseph Robinson, father of Andrea Robinson who died of bacterial meningitis in February 2010, sued the Ohio University Hudson Health Center, OU President Roderick McDavis, OU Office of Legal Affairs General Counsel John Biancamano as well as unknown individuals, according to court documents.

The case was set to go to trial Nov. 17 in the Ohio Court of Claims, but a court document filed Friday by attorneys from both sides stated the case had been resolved pending approval of Cuyahoga County Probate Court.

OU will be responsible for paying an estimated $100,000 of the settlement, Stephanie Filson, OU spokeswoman said. Robinson originally demanded $25,000 from the defendants, plus: interest, costs, attorney fees and “other relief,” according to court documents. 

The lawsuit asserted that the university failed to adequately warn students that there was a strain of bacterial meningitis on campus which lacked a vaccine, and that Hudson Health Center provided Robinson inadequate advice, which indirectly resulted in her death. 

When her temperature reached 103.8, Robinson made two calls — one by herself and the other with her boyfriend Eric Reville — due to her being too weak to walk to the health center or a hospital. She was told to take some Tylenol, drink some water and get some rest, according to court documents.

In the plaintiff's final pretrial statement, it was said that OU knew bacterial meningitis was present on the campus, even knowing it would be likely characterized as an outbreak for much of 2009 and all of 2010. 

The university held a meeting on March 19, 2009, the statement said, after two cases of Meningitis Group B were contracted on campus OU. During the meeting, the Athens City-County Health Commissioner Dr. James Gaskell advised the university that the meningitis vaccination did not prevent the Group B strain of the virus. 

The university decided at the meeting not to disclose this fact to students, according to court documents.

After four additional Group B cases were found by early 2010 — before the time Robinson contracted the disease — Gaskell recommended OU to tell students that a typical meningitis vaccination did not prevent Group B, though OU did not act on this recommendation.

OU admitted that it had knowledge certain students were diagnosed with bacterial meningitis prior to the time that Andrea became ill.

Because Andrea did not directly seek assistance from Hudson Health Center prior to her death, and a patient-doctor relationship had not been established, the university denied other allegations and argued in a motion for summary judgment that the medical negligence and wrongful death claims against the university should be denied.

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