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Judge dismisses lawsuit against Ohio State over 2020 murder near campus

Chase Meola/Facebook
Chase Meola/Facebook

A judge has dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit filed against The Ohio State University over the death of a student killed near campus in 2020.

Judge Dale Crawford wrote that the lawsuit against Ohio State would not go forward because the death of Chase Meola did not happen on the university campus. Meola, 23, died on October 11, 2020, when he was shot at an off-campus fraternity house on East 14th Avenue.

Meola was killed in the Psi Kappa Psi fraternity house. At the time, the Ohio State chapter was suspended by the university for hazing and other violations, but the lawsuit claims the local chapter was still operating.

Within hours of the shooting, police arrested Kintie Mitchell, 18, on murder charges. The judge’s ruling on the lawsuit called Mitchell an "uninvited individual" in an "adjacent neighborhood."

Judge Crawford wrote that precedent in Ohio law says colleges and universities generally do not have a duty to protect students from third parties.

"Chase was a student at OSU, but at a party at his fraternity's house at the time of his death," Crawford wrote.

"While Plaintiffs allege a special relationship between OSU and Chase, none are applicable based on the contents of Plaintiffs' Complaint. Accepting the facts alleged in the Complaint as true, the University District is part of the City of Columbus, not OSU, and OSU did not control the fraternity house," Crawford also wrote.

An attorney for Meola's family did not immediately respond to a request for comment. An Ohio State spokesperson wrote in an email, "We'll let the ruling speak for itself."

There is still a pending federal lawsuit filed by Meola’s family against the national and local chapters of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.