Lax Campus Security at Center of Wrongful Death Case


The University of Delaware has been named in a wrongful death and negligence case by the parents of a student who died after taking a mixture of cocaine and Fentanyl. Laura Shanks died at the beginning of the 2006 school year after being given the mixture by her then-boyfriend, Kevin Hamilton. The suit claims that Hamilton was on the Newark campus even though he had been expelled in 2005 after police found 53.4 grams of marijuana in his dorm room.

The suit alleges in part, “By reason of the University of Delaware’s completely inadequate and substandard security system, this former drug-dealing student, Kevin Hamilton, returned to campus on the morning hours of Aug. 28, 2006, entered a University dormitory building without being stopped, or even observed, by any live security personnel, and provided a street drug laced with a dangerous chemical substance to another student…who died shortly thereafter from its ingestion.”

The suit also accuses UD of breach of contract because the university’s website and brochures claim the school has a “nationally renowned” security system. This then gave the Shanks family “a false understanding of the high level of security at the university, and created an unjustifiable peace of mind as to the safety of Laura.” Statistics from 2005 show that the university had 62 police and security officers to watch over 19,000 students and 4000 employees on the 968 acre campus.

Furthermore, the suit claims security on campus is a “chronic problem,” and documents thefts, trespassing, burglaries, and stoppage of local fugitives from 2004 to Shanks’ death in August, 2006.

Hamilton pleaded guilty to giving Shanks the mixture of drugs and was sentenced to five years in prison. He was also sentenced to spend Shanks’ birthday in solitary confinement.

University of Delaware is not the only campus where security problems have made the news. With several shootings and campus murders, along with what some might consider “garden variety” crimes, campuses seem to be more than places parents send their kids for an education. They are small cities unto themselves. However, asking that those in charge of campuses ensure the safety of kids who are only a year or two out of high school shouldn’t be too much to ask for.

If you have lost a loved one due to a breach or through negligence in campus security, please contact an experienced wrongful death attorney in your area.