The mother of murdered University of Virginia student Yeardley Love has filed a wrongful death suit in Louisa County Circuit Court claiming the coaches of UVa’s men’s lacrosse team could have prevented the death of her daughter.
The suit, published on NBC29’s website, names the Commonwealth of Virginia, head men’s lacrosse coach Dom Starsia, associate coach Marc van Arsdale and UVa Athletics Director Craig Littlepage as defendants. Sharon Love is asking for $29,450,000 in damages, plus interest.
“UVa and its employees, officers and agents had a duty to protect and keep the students safe,” the suit says.
Brian J. Gottstein, a spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General, said Thursday that the suit has not yet been served.
“If it is served, we will vigorously defend the case. While we certainly recognize the terrible loss suffered by the Love family, that loss was not caused by the commonwealth or anyone employed at the University of Virginia,” he said.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, follows another wrongful death suit Love filed last week in Charlottesville Circuit Court against George Huguely, a former UVa lacrosse player and Yeardley Love’s ex-boyfriend. Huguely was convicted of second-degree murder and grand larceny in Love’s death, which occurred May 3, 2010.
The latest suit cites a number of violent alcohol-related episodes, including Huguely’s November 2008 arrest in Lexington in which he was charged and later convicted of public intoxication and swearing and resisting arrest. The suit claims that the lacrosse coaches did not take adequate disciplinary measures against him.
The suit claims “no action was taken by Starsia, Van Arsdale, Littlepage or anyone at UVA to discipline Huguely for his multiple alcohol related offenses and alcohol abuse, as well as his violent behavior, or to suspend or remove Huguely from the lacrosse team, or to report Huguely’s potential risk of violence pursuant to the UVA Policy on Preventing and Addressing Threats or Acts of Violence.”
The suit also noted an incident in the spring of 2009 in which Huguely “viciously attacked” a teammate after the teammate was seen with Love. The teammate suffered a concussion, according to the suit, but “no action” was taken by the defendants to discipline Huguely.
Huguely also attacked a young woman Huguely thought had told his father about his “chronic intoxication and rage,” the lawsuit says.
The suit notes that in May 2009, a “sparingly played” lacrosse player was suspended from the team when arrested for driving while intoxicated. Unlike Huguely, the other player was suspended from the team for the alcohol-related offense.
The lawsuit also mentions Huguely’s violence against Yeardley Love, including an incident in which he “violently choked” her in his bedroom while a party was going on in his apartment.
The suit says that “[Yeardley] Love ended her relationship with Huguely, primarily because of his alcohol abuse and erratic and aggressive behavior.”
The suit claims that on the night of May 2, 2010, Huguely, “intoxicated and raging,” entered Love’s bedroom and “engaged in a physical altercation.” The suit claims the incident “was very similar to Huguely’s prior incident with the teammate [who suffered a concussion], resulting in severe injuries to Love from which she died.”
As with the suit against Huguely, Love is asking for a trial by jury in the suit against the state and UVa athletic officials.
Love’s suit against Huguely seeks $29,450,000 in compensatory damages, $1 million in punitive damages, plus interest and reimbursement for attorney fees.
A spokeswoman for UVa declined to comment Thursday. Starsia and van Arsdale also declined to comment through a spokesperson.
Love’s lawyer, Elliott M. Buckner, also declined to comment.
Phone calls to Sharon Love and Littlepage were not answered.
Lawyers for Huguely are expected to appeal his conviction. No date has been set to hear either of the civil lawsuits.