Suit in cheerleader’s death settled for $700K
WAILUKU » The chaperone of a teenage cheerleader who fell to her death from a Maui hotel balcony while drunk has been ordered to pay nearly $700,000.
Arbitrator Gerald Sekiya said in his decision May 23 that Susanne Sadler must pay the family and estate of 18-year-old Lauren Crossan.
The Randolph, N.J., cheerleader died in 2004 while in Hawaii to perform during the halftime show at the Hula Bowl college football game.
Sadler's attorney, Harvey Henderson of Honolulu, declined to comment.
Crossan family attorney James Krueger called the arbitrator's decision a "very conservative and fair award."
"I think the award was within a reasonable range," Krueger said. "I could see it doubled without batting an eye because of the severity of the grief these parents suffered."
Crossan arrived on Maui on Jan. 11, 2004, with Sadler, Sadler's daughter and another New Jersey cheerleader.
Within hours after arriving, Crossan was seen drinking citrus-flavored malt liquor and a large cup of vodka and cranberry juice, according to a police investigation of her death.
She also went to the room of a 20-year-old Folsom, Calif., man. The next morning, Crossan's body was found on the grounds of the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort. Her clothes, purse, cellular telephone and other belongings were in the man's room.
An autopsy found Crossan's blood-alcohol level at 0.17 percent, or more than twice the 0.08 percent blood-alcohol limit for driving while intoxicated.
Police questioned the California man and another man but released them. Investigators found no signs of foul play in the hotel room or a struggle on the balcony. Crossan's death has been classified as an accident.
The Crossans' lawsuit against Sadler was scheduled to go to trial this fall, but Krueger said he suggested taking the matter before a professional arbitrator.
He said the results are binding.
"Whether the defense was happy or unhappy with the determination, it is not appealable," Krueger said.
Of the award, $210,000 is to go to Crossan's mother, Diane E. Crossan, and $180,000 to her father, Charles P. Crossan Jr. The remaining $300,000 goes to her estate.
The Crossan family also sued Hyatt Corp., but Krueger declined to disclose the outcome of that litigation other than to say that "issues pertaining to the hotel ... were long ago disposed of."
In November 2004, the Hyatt was fined $50,000 for repeatedly serving drinks to the two men who were with Crossan before she died. The hotel was charged with not checking the identification of the men, then 19 and 20 years old and both residents of Folsom, Calif.
A police detective described a "Mardi Gras atmosphere at the Hyatt with all the Hula Bowl cheerleaders present." The detective reported there were "several parties in the hotel and several minors in possession of alcoholic beverages in rooms and on the grounds."