The father of a Cornell University student who killed himself by jumping off a bridge last year has filed a lawsuit against the school seeking $180 million in damages.
Freshman Bradley Ginsburg, 18, threw himself from the Thurston Avenue Bridge, which connects the north and central Cornell campuses, back in Feb 2010. The incident had been the first of a string of suicides committed within the same month, with two other students leaping to their deaths from nearby bridges soon after.
While those suicides prompted the university to build higher railings around its bridges and offer more mental health services, the boy's father says the university ignored a suicide problem that spanned 20 years.
The lawsuit, filed on Nov. 21, claims that the "'campus area became known as an iconic spot for ending one’s life' after 27 people jumped to their deaths from the bridges between 1990 and 2010," according to The Cornell Daily Sun.
The suit alleges that both Cornell and the City of Ithaca, N.Y., which owns the bridges, acted negligently by failing to install suicide barriers sooner despite the university's reputation. In addition, the lawsuit claims that parents should have been notified about three suicides that occurred only a year prior to Ginsburg's, which would have brought awareness to the situation and allowed parents to check up on their children's mental health.
"They’re doing what they should have done a long time ago," Ginsburg's father, Howard, told The Sun Sentinel. "They knew about this and did nothing about it...This is way past gross negligence. I’ve equated this to leaving a loaded gun on the table. Cornell for years fought putting any kind of barriers on the bridges, for environmental reasons, the gorgeous views."
Specific administrators are listed as defendants, including President David Skorton, Vice President for Student and Academic Services Susan Murphy, Gannett Director of Mental Health Initiatives Tim Marchell and Gannett Associate Director Gregory Eells.