Families of two Ole Miss fraternity fire file lawsuit

Published 3:47 pm Friday, August 24, 2007

The families of two people who died in a 2004 fire at the Alpha Tau Omega house on the University of Mississippi campus have filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Lafayette County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday against ATO National and The Housing Corporation, the Ole Miss ATO chapter and others. The university isn’t listed as a defendant.

The ATO house burned on Aug. 27, 2004. Three fraternity brothers — Will Townsend, 19, of Clarksdale, Jordan Williams, 20, of Atlanta and Howard Stone, 19, of Martinsville, Va. — died in the fire.

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Booneville attorney Joey Langston, who represents Williams’ family, said the lawsuit’s objective is to bring attention to safety issues in fraternity and sorority houses. The Liston Law Firm of Winona represents Stone’s family. Townsend’s family isn’t listed as a plaintiff in either complaint.

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives National Laboratory classified the cause of the fire as undetermined. The ATF said there was no evidence of foul play or that the fire was intentionally set. Investigators said the fire started in a basement bedroom.