The Pi Delta Psi fraternity on  Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, where a UPS worker said he fell in 2014, spurring a recent lawsuit.

Jason Ben Nathan / Sun Senior Photographer

The Pi Delta Psi fraternity on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, where a UPS worker said he fell in 2014, spurring a recent lawsuit.

September 26, 2017

Cornell Sued After UPS Worker Said He Slipped and Fell on Fraternity Staircase

Print More

A United Parcel Service employee’s fall on a staircase in front of a Cornell fraternity three years ago could end up costing the University.

Liberty Mutual Insurance Company is suing Cornell three years after the company says a UPS employee was injured when he slipped and fell while walking on a damaged staircase in front of Pi Delta Psi on Triphammer Road.

The slip and fall, which the insurance company said occurred on Sept. 24, 2014, led the UPS employee to submit a claim to Liberty Mutual, which paid him workers’ compensation and is now suing Cornell on his behalf.

In New York State Supreme Court in Tompkins County, Liberty Mutual said Cornell’s “negligence, careless and reckless acts, and/or omissions” directly resulted in injuries to the UPS worker, who “suffered various physical injuries and has been caused to incur bills for medical expenses and medical treatment,” the company said.

The insurance company does not mention what injuries the UPS worker suffered, but demands that Cornell pay damages, with interest, as well as attorney’s fees and the cost of the lawsuit.

It is not clear from the filing if the insurance company is claiming the UPS driver was injured walking up the wood staircase attached to the green fraternity house or on a stone set of steps leading up to the front of the building at 124 Triphammer Rd.

Mark S. Labe, the New York attorney representing Liberty Mutual, did not respond to an email and voicemail on Tuesday afternoon.

Because Cornell owned or maintained the staircase in question in front of Pi Delta Psi, the insurance company said, the University is responsible for the injuries reportedly suffered by the UPS employee.

Pi Delta Psi is an Asian-interest fraternity founded in 1994 in Binghamton, according to the fraternity’s website. No members of the fraternity are named in the lawsuit.

The University has not yet responded to the lawsuit, which was filed on Sept. 22.

The insurance company, Liberty Mutual, is suing because it already paid the UPS employee’s claim, according to the suit. Therefore, the suit says, the insurance company became entitled to the rights of the UPS worker to file suit against Cornell.

  • Jay Wind

    Without commenting on the merits of this specific case, Sun readers should know that each Cornell fraternity is required to provide Cornell with evidence of a liability policy with at least $1 million of coverage. Cornell also has coverage from Lloyds of London for vicarious liability for Greek organizations with the cost of that policy divided among the various Greek houses. So, these cases are more insurance company sues insurance company rather than oh my gosh, my tuition will go up next year because a UPS guy fell on the steps in 2014 Perhaps the Sun could interview Cornell’s risk management office and do a story on the general Cornell insurance situation.

  • jaydeeare

    I’m surprised that this case has gone to court. There must be some equivalent of a homeowner’s insurance policy on Pi Delta Pi’s building. The UPS driver’s lawyer, or UPS itself, could have documented the driver’s injuries and presented the documentation to the building’s insurance agent, who may have offered a reasonable settlement.
    I went through a similar situation after a dog a local dog park here in Maryland pulled a five-inch U-shaped hunk of flesh loose from my leg. My lawyer documented the injury and associated medical expenses and presented the documentation to the dog’s owners’ homeowners insurance agent. The agent made a good offer and we accepted it. The court system wasn’t involved.

    • Jay Wind

      There is a different standard for workman’s compensation claims and a tort action against a third party. If you are hurt and can prove that it was on the job, it is easy to get compensated. It is hard to establish negligence in a slip-and-fall case. Was a banana peel left on the front steps? Ithaca did not have a lot of ice and snow on Sept. 24, 2014, so it was not a case of forgetting to clear the steps.