A negligence lawsuit suing Penn's chapter of Psi Upsilon, commonly known as Castle, has been dropped after a Penn alumna alleged that she was severely burned by a large, flaming marshmallow at a 2017 Halloween party. The party, known as Magic Gardens, will return in April after operations were suspended because of the suit.
2018 Nursing graduate Jessica Davis sued Castle for negligence in September 2018 after she was allegedly severely harmed at the "Magic Gardens Halloween" party on Oct. 27, 2017 at an off-campus venue at 5126 Warren St.
Three Penn students and fraternity members were named in the suit, including 2018 College and Engineering graduate Vadim Ordovsky-Tanaevsky, Wharton senior Patrick Lobo, and Engineering junior Edmund Hammond. Penn's Psi Upsilon chapter, the Psi Upsilon national office, and the landlord of the party venue were also listed as co-defendants.
Davis, the complaint states, was standing near an unmonitored fire pit wearing a shirt with an open back. A party guest, who was drunk, was roasting a marshmallow and shook the stick, causing the marshmallow to adhere to Davis's back.
The incident, Davis claimed, resulted in permanent scarring. She contended that her injury could have been prevented if the fraternity provided adequate supervision to protect the approximately 1,000 students partying and drinking near open flames.
The lawsuit was dismissed soon after it was filed, Thomas Fox, executive director of Psi Upsilon's international office, wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian. After the lawsuit was filed on Sept. 19, 2018, Davis' lawyer submitted a request to dismiss the lawsuit on Sept. 28, 2018.
Davis and her lawyer, Kevin Clancy Boylan, who works for the personal injury firm Morgan & Morgan, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Hammond said he has not been contacted by the parties who filed the lawsuit since its dismissal and the fraternity was not given a reason why the case was dropped.
This semester, Magic Gardens will be hosted by LW Productions, a Penn student-run LLC composed of Castle members and non-affiliated students, on April 12 during the week of Spring Fling, Hammond said. It will be the first Magic Gardens event held since the 2017 Spring Fling party and will be hosted separately from the fraternity. The Magic Gardens party had been held consecutively since Spring Fling 2016.
"Beyond the fact that some of the members of the team, myself included, are Psi Upsilon brothers, there is no affiliation between the event and Psi Upsilon," said Hammond, who is the LW Productions director. "Since reviving the event from last year, I have made sure that the two entities are completely separate. We run Magic Gardens as a professional event separate from any one particular fraternity."
The planners will also be taking more precautions this semester to ensure the safety of attendees, Hammond said, adding that the party will have an EMT stationed at the venue and increased security.
Every guest's wristband will also include a "unique identifier" to provide event staff with the guest's emergency contact information, said Engineering and Wharton junior EJ Murphy, who directs LW Productions' Partnerships and Talent Team.
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