Tag:Declan Sullivan
Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:01 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 1:18 pm
 

ND's fine reduced in wake of Sullivan death

Posted by Tom Fornelli

In March, Notre Dame was fined $77,500 by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Association (IOSHA) for its role in the death of videographer Declan Sullivan in October. Notre Dame then contested IOSHA's ruling in April in hopes of finding a different solution to the problem, and on Friday there was a new agreement between the two parties. Part of which will see the fine reduced from $77,500 to $42,000.
In exchange for the smaller fine, the university is required to launch a national education campaign on the safe use of scissor lifts. The school will also make a donation to Sullivan’s memorial fund and designate a liaison between Notre Dame’s athletic department and the risk-management division to make sure all employees are properly trained.

The university will not disclose how much it will donate to the memorial fund, university spokesman Dennis Brown said.

“What remains ever-present throughout this process is the reality of the loss experienced by Declan Sullivan’s family and friends, all of whom remain in the thoughts and prayers of the Notre Dame community,” university spokesman Dennis Brown said in a statement. “Notre Dame is committed to doing all we can to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again and is working with IOSHA and others on a national education initiative on aerial-lift safety in regard to setup, training and weather-related risks.”
The Sullivan family also released a statement supporting Notre Dame and the decision.

Now, while some people may see this as nothing more than Notre Dame having to pay less money for its role in Declan Sullivan's death, I feel that this is the better option for all sides to take. I'd rather the school pay a smaller fine and take a more proactive role in ensuring that a tragedy like this never happens again -- not only at Notre Dame but at every school around the country.
Posted on: April 18, 2011 11:48 am
 

ND: Individuals not responsible in Sullivan death

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Notre Dame has released the report following its internal investigation regarding the death of student videographer Declan Sullivan, and president Rev. John Jenkins has said that the university as a whole is to blame. 

"The university ... is collectively responsible," Jenkins said. "Insofar as the President is responsible for the university as a whole, I am the individual who bears the most responsibility, and I accept that responsibility."

But Jenkins' acceptance may not quiet critics angered by the report's claim that "no one acted in disregard for safety" when 53 miles-per-hour winds overturned Sullivan's hydraulic lift last fall. To read not-so-deeply between the lines of Jenkins' open letter on the incident, blame must be shared "collectively" since it cannot be assigned individually:

"After a thorough and painstaking study in which numerous university personnel were interviewed and external experts consulted, we have reached the conclusion that no one acted in disregard for safety," school president Rev. John Jenkins wrote in an open letter posted on the school's web site. 

"Each individual involved based his decisions and actions that day on the best information available at the time and in accord with the procedures that were in place." 

Said Notre Dame executive vice president John Affleck-Graves: "What we found is that numerous decisions by many people -- made in good faith on that (day) and even over the course of several years -- played a role in the accident."

The report seemed to specifically absolve head coach Brian Kelly, concluding that he "depends on" other staff members (a directore of football operations, a trainer, etc.) to provide him with accurate weather information.

In line with the above conclusions, Jenkins has confirmed that no one at Notre Dame has been individually disciplined for the failures that led to Sullivan's death. (The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration did fine the school more than $77,000 for "ignoring industry standards" in the incident.)

"The Sullivans entrusted Declan to our care and we failed to keep him safe. We will live with this for the rest of our lives," Jenkins wrote. No will argue otherwise. But without the university issuing so much as a fine in response to an entirely preventable death of a student on their watch, Jenkins will also have to live with what is sure to be a firestorm of continuing criticism.

Posted on: April 8, 2011 9:21 am
 

Notre Dame contests IOSHA investigation findings

Posted by Chip Patterson

Less than a month after receiving several fines totalling $77,500 from the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA), Notre Dame has decided to formally contest the findings from the state investigation.  The state investigated whether the school was at fault for the tragic death of videographer Declan Sullivan.  The state investigation revealed six different violations regarding the maintence and precautions for the hydraulic scissor lift that collapsed in a storm with Sullivan inside.

The formal notice of contest allows campus administrators to continue talks with state officials, and attempt to find a more reasonable solution (I'm guessing that would involve less money).  No specific details from the discussions have emerged, but both sides have reported the initial talks to be positive. 

"Notre Dame really is trying to live up to the things they said in the media," IOSHA spokesperson Stephanie McFarland told the Chicago Tribune. "They want to make sure something like this never happens again."

Notre Dame already did install a state-of-the-art videography system.  The new cameras have been placed on the end of long booms and can be controlled remotely.  There is no longer a need to put a videographer up in any kind of lift evironment.  The decisions on the fines were reached after an investigator made 10 visits to the South Bend campus and to take measurements and interview numerous campus officials, including head coach Brian Kelly.   
Posted on: April 8, 2011 9:21 am
 

Notre Dame contests IOSHA investigation findings

Posted by Chip Patterson

Less than a month after receiving several fines totalling $77,500 from the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA), Notre Dame has decided to formally contest the findings from the state investigation.  The state investigated whether the school was at fault for the tragic death of videographer Declan Sullivan.  The state investigation revealed six different violations regarding the maintence and precautions for the hydraulic scissor lift that collapsed in a storm with Sullivan inside.

The formal notice of contest allows campus administrators to continue talks with state officials, and attempt to find a more reasonable solution (I'm guessing that would involve less money).  No specific details from the discussions have emerged, but both sides have reported the initial talks to be positive. 

"Notre Dame really is trying to live up to the things they said in the media," IOSHA spokesperson Stephanie McFarland told the Chicago Tribune. "They want to make sure something like this never happens again."

Notre Dame already did install a state-of-the-art videography system.  The new cameras have been placed on the end of long booms and can be controlled remotely.  There is no longer a need to put a videographer up in any kind of lift evironment.  The decisions on the fines were reached after an investigator made 10 visits to the South Bend campus and to take measurements and interview numerous campus officials, including head coach Brian Kelly.   
Posted on: March 15, 2011 4:00 pm
 

IOSHA statement from Declan Sullivan's family

Posted by Adam Jacobi

As reported earlier, Indiana's OSHA office announced today that Notre Dame would be fined nearly $80,000 for a series of occupational misdeeds leading up to the accidental death of volunteer film assistant Declan Sullivan last year, including a $55,000 fine for knowingly sending Sullivan to the lift with a wind advisory active. Here's what Sullivan's parents had to say about the announcement, released in a statement today:

We appreciate the thorough investigation by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) concerning the circumstances surrounding the death of our son, Declan. This report is an important step in preventing future accidents, but its findings do not change the fact that Declan is not with us.

Our family supports the efforts by the University of Notre Dame to halt the use of hydraulic lifts to film football practices and install remote-controlled cameras. We are confident that Notre Dame will address the additional issues raised in the IOSHA report. 

It is our sincere desire that universities, high schools and other institutions that use these lifts take to heart that accidents such as these are preventable and can be avoided if the designated safety measures are taken. 

We are grateful for the respect shown us over the past several months by everyone connected with Notre Dame. The University has maintained an open line of communication throughout this period and has provided timely answers to our questions.

Finally, our family remains thankful to the many individuals who have expressed their condolences in countless ways. We would like to express gratitude for the donations to the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Fund and we continue to work with Notre Dame and others to find a fitting way to memorialize Declan's life.

We appreciate continued respect for our privacy as we focus on dealing with the loss of our son.

Alison and Barry Sullivan

The Sullivan family remains non-committal on whether they will sue Notre Dame over Declan's accident. The level of praise the family has for the school's response to the tragedy is certainly worth noticing, and it could very well be that they don't have it in them to pursue litigation at this point.

At the same time, six workplace safety violations contributing directly to Sullivan's death is far past unacceptable, and it's pretty surprising that nobody has lost their job over this tragedy yet. Yes, the report is only hours old, so the personnel situation could change at a moment's notice, but what kind of a message would it send to the Sullivan family and others who put their loved ones in Notre Dame's care that causing a death and racking up $77,500 in OSHA fines isn't a fireable offense?

Posted on: March 15, 2011 10:21 am
 

Notre Dame fined $77,500 in videographer tragedy

Posted by Chip Patterson

When Notre Dame starts spring practice, they will be giving a first-run to some brand new videotaping technology.  The new remote-controlled videography system was put into place in South Bend as a result of the terrible tragedy that led to the death of Declan Sullivan.  Sullivan was killed when the hydraulic scissor lift where he was taping collapsed during a storm.  

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) has fined Notre Dame a total of $77,500 for six different violations that resulted in the tragedy, according to Stacy St. Clair of the Chicago Tribune.  The violations add up like this: 

• Knowingly exposing its employees to unsafe conditions by directing its untrained student videographers to use the scissor lift during a period of time when the National Weather Service issued an active wind advisory with sustained winds and guests in excess of the manufactured specifications and warnings. $55,000 fine.
• Not properly training the student employees in the operation and use of scissor lifts. $5,000 fine.
• Not doing annual, monthly or weekly inspections on the scissor lift for more than a year. $5,000 fine.
• Not having a scissor lift service as required by the maintenance schedule in the operator’s manual. $5,000 fine.
• Not having an operator’s manual kept in a weather-proof box. $5,000 fine.
• Missing some warning labels and having some labels that were weathered and faded. $2,500 fine.

As mentioned above, Notre Dame has already taken action to eliminate the lifts that caused the tragedy.  Sullivan's family expressed their appreciation for the efforts made by the school, and some have even suggested that this could make way for even more advancements in college football videography.  

But chances are that most programs will not have the resources to install a state-of-the-art video system in the near future.  So the focus of the tragedy returns to the prevention of such accidents by keeping the lifts properly maintained and educating the users on the precautions and regulations.  Notre Dame strayed away from such practices, and now it will cost them.  
Posted on: March 15, 2011 10:21 am
 

Notre Dame fined $77,500 in videographer tragedy

Posted by Chip Patterson

When Notre Dame starts spring practice, they will be giving a first-run to some brand new videotaping technology.  The new remote-controlled videography system was put into place in South Bend as a result of the terrible tragedy that led to the death of Declan Sullivan.  Sullivan was killed when the hydraulic scissor lift where he was taping collapsed during a storm.  

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) has fined Notre Dame a total of $77,500 for six different violations that resulted in the tragedy, according to Stacy St. Clair of the Chicago Tribune.  The violations add up like this: 

• Knowingly exposing its employees to unsafe conditions by directing its untrained student videographers to use the scissor lift during a period of time when the National Weather Service issued an active wind advisory with sustained winds and guests in excess of the manufactured specifications and warnings. $55,000 fine.
• Not properly training the student employees in the operation and use of scissor lifts. $5,000 fine.
• Not doing annual, monthly or weekly inspections on the scissor lift for more than a year. $5,000 fine.
• Not having a scissor lift service as required by the maintenance schedule in the operator’s manual. $5,000 fine.
• Not having an operator’s manual kept in a weather-proof box. $5,000 fine.
• Missing some warning labels and having some labels that were weathered and faded. $2,500 fine.

As mentioned above, Notre Dame has already taken action to eliminate the lifts that caused the tragedy.  Sullivan's family expressed their appreciation for the efforts made by the school, and some have even suggested that this could make way for even more advancements in college football videography.  

But chances are that most programs will not have the resources to install a state-of-the-art video system in the near future.  So the focus of the tragedy returns to the prevention of such accidents by keeping the lifts properly maintained and educating the users on the precautions and regulations.  Notre Dame strayed away from such practices, and now it will cost them.  
Posted on: December 27, 2010 6:20 pm
 

Notre Dame back to using scissor lifts?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

In the wake of the Declan Sullivan accident that rocked both the Notre Dame campus and the college football world as a whole, Notre Dame announced that it would not be using scissor lifts -- the raised platforms frequently used by football programs to film practices from considerable heights -- until the investigation of Sullivan's death was complete. Nobody raised an eyebrow, as any investigation of an incident this serious should thoroughly examine every factor possible. It would have been worse from both a PR and legal standpoint if Notre Dame had said it wouldn't suspend use of the lifts.

The thing of it is, though, coaches use lifts for a reason: they're enormously useful, and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wasn't exactly clamoring to get Sullivan down from the lift before that day's terrible accident. So it's not exactly surprising to see that with Sun Bowl preparation in full swing, the Irish are back to using the lifts, before the Sullivan investigation is complete. Here's a picture from the Chicago Tribune 's Brian Hamilton from earlier today:

Notre Dame would later announce that while the Sullivan investigation is ongoing, it received clearance to use the lift from its office of risk management. This makes sense. If the issue with Sullivan's death was that scissor lifts are inherently unsafe in any weather condition and are liable to kill their occupants at any moment, every other football team in America would have stopped using them too. Nobody has bothered arguing that, however, because it's pretty obvious that the Sullivan accident was caused by the lift being used in substantially higher winds than regulations permit. All across the country, football programs follow regulations in the use of these lifts every day (and have done so for decades) without any incident. If anything, this development from Notre Dame only confirms what was widely suspected: that Sullivan's death was not caused by a random, unforeseeable equipment failure on a catastrophic level, but by misuse of that equipment. As long as Notre Dame uses the lift properly, in all likelihood, a similar accident will never happen again.

The bad news for Notre Dame, then, is that such a development only strengthens any possible wrongful death lawsuit, should the Sullivans go down that road. Again, Notre Dame is openly acknowledging the obvious: using scissor lifts under normal weather conditions is acceptable, but the conditions under which Sullivan was sent up that day were sufficently bad that he (obviously) should not have gone up. It's hard to draw any conclusion from that statement that doesn't directly implicate Notre Dame as liable for Sullivan's tragic death.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com