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Cutler Hall on Ohio University's campus in Athens, Ohio. (FILE)

OU sued over student death, alleged negligence

Brad Airy, along with his family, have launched a wrongful death and reckless negligence lawsuit against Ohio University and other involved parties for the death of Jordyn Airy.

The lawsuit was filed in the Ohio Court of Claims on Aug. 31, 2021, by Raymond Marvar, who is representing the Airy family. 

At the time of her death, Jordyn Airy was a freshman at OU and had not yet declared a major, according to the lawsuit. 

Jordyn Airy lived in Wilson Hall, located on West Green, which was the residence hall on campus where students who were part of the Transition Success Program lived. The program was designed to provide a supportive living environment for academically at-risk students. 

On Sept. 7, 2019, Jordyn Airy was found dead in her dorm room. Her cause of death was ruled a suicide. 

The suit claims it was the “grossly negligent, willful, wanton and reckless behavior” of OU by which Jordyn Airy’s death occurred. 

On move-in day for Fall Semester 2019, Robin Airy, Jordyn Airy’s mother, noticed a sign that suggested parents and students could reach out to then-Wilson Hall resident adviser Ashley Spiller for “anything,” the suit alleges. 

Spiller provided her cell phone number on the sign, and Robin Airy took note of the number in case anyone in the family had reason to call her.

On Sept. 7, 2019, Brad Airy, Jordyn Airy’s father, was growing concerned for his daughter and felt she needed a mental health wellness check, according to the suit. With an understanding he could reach out to Spiller with any concerns, he sent a text message to her cell phone number at 2:07 p.m., asking for a wellness check and explaining his worries. 

At 2:08 p.m., Brad Airy saw Spiller had read his text message. He received no reply. A half hour later, Brad Airy called Spiller and left a descriptive message asking for her help. 

At nearly 4 p.m., Brad Airy had still not heard back from Spiller, and he decided to call the OU Department of Housing and Residence Life. The department was closed for the weekend. 

Brad Airy tried to call Spiller twice around 6 p.m. and left messages both times. 

Over a four-hour period on Sept. 7, 2019, Brad Airy left a total of seven telephone and text messages regarding his daughter, according to the suit. 

At 6:07 p.m., Jeremy Miller, the resident director at Wilson Hall, called Brad Airy and allegedly “scolded and reprimanded” him for the number of calls to Spiller, according to the suit. After conversing with Brad Airy, Miller agreed to check in on Jordyn Airy.

After nearly an hour, Brad Airy had not heard anything from Miller. He tried to call him again and received no answer. At 8:04 p.m., after trying to contact Miller and Spiller numerous times, Brad Airy called the Ohio University Police Department. 

OUPD allegedly told Brad Airy it did not have time to talk with him, according to the suit. At 8:33 p.m., Brad Airy attempted to contact OUPD a second time, and he received the same message. The suit alleges OUPD knew Brad Airy’s daughter, Jordyn Airy, was dead both times he called the department. At nearly 9 p.m., OUPD called Brad Airy to tell him that Jordyn Airy died. 

Following those events, Brad Airy learned that Miller did a physical check of Jordyn’s dorm room in Wilson Hall around 6:30 p.m. and found she had died. 

In addition, the suit alleges OU encouraged parents to “reach out” with concerns regarding their students on numerous occasions. It also states that the university promoted parent relationships and engagement with OU and its students. 

According to the suit, OU has a standard of care it must abide by when assisting students that it did not meet. The university had a duty to respond immediately to the voiced concerns of Brad Airy, the suit states.  

According to the autopsy report noted in the suit and the opinion of the coroner, it’s probable Jordyn Airy was alive prior to 6 p.m. The suit alleges, based on the opinions of the coroner, had Spiller or Miller “fulfilled their duty” and met the standard of care, Jordyn Airy would have likely been discovered alive in her dorm room and been treated. 

OU declined to comment on the lawsuit, as it is currently pending. However, Carly Leatherwood, a university spokesperson, said the university believes the suit is “unfounded” and is prepared to defend itself in court. 


Molly Wilson

News Editor

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