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Notre Dame's Declan Sullivan story is a sad one, and it may well end up getting the University sued.
Now, Indiana's Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) has concluded its investigation into the death of Declan Sullivan, a Notre Dame student videographer who was filming a football practice when the hydraulic lift he was standing on collapsed.
Indiana's OHSA announced that Notre Dame will be fined $77,500 for workplace safety violations. The Fighting Irish were hit with a total of six violations, including "knowingly exposing its employees to unsafe conditions," the OSHA statement read.
"Notre Dame did not establish and maintain conditions of work that were reasonably safe for its employees that were free from recognized hazards that caused or were likely to cause death or serious injury."
Make no mistake: this is some damaging news for Notre Dame. Remember that the school's civil liability, before these findings, was estimated at $30 million.
Declan Sullivan was filming a Notre Dame football practice from a hydraulic (or scissors) lift in high winds. The lift came crashing down and Sullivan, 20, died in the accident.
Winds were reported at the time in the neighborhood of 51 miles per hour, and practice had been moved indoors the day before due to the heavy winds.
In response to the incident, Notre Dame no longer uses the hydraulic lifts, also known as scissor lifts, at football practices. Instead, they have moved to a remote-controlled camera system. OSHA did not mince words, saying that Notre Dame was guilty of: "ignoring industry standards that could have prevented the death," the Chicago Tribune reports.
"The IOSHA findings are very helpful as we begin to conclude our own comprehensive investigation ... As part of the agency's review process, we will meet with officials in the next 15 days," said John Affleck-Graves, an executive vice president at Notre Dame, The Sporting News reports.
You can also expect any civil lawsuit to come from this incident to cite directly to these OSHA findings. His family could argue that Notre Dame was negligent in letting Declan work under such conditions. Negligence requires proof of a duty, a breach of the duty, factual/legal causation and damages.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.