"It was well known to the players and coaches on the UVA men's and women's lacrosse teams that [George] Huguely's alcohol abuse and erratic, aggressive behavior was increasingly getting out of control, especially his obsession with Love and his aggressiveness and threats to Love," according to the civil suit filed this week in Louisa County Circuit Court by Sharon Love of Cockeysville.
"UVA and its employees, officers, and agents had a duty to protect and keep its students safe," the suit said.
Huguely, 24, was convicted of second-degree murder in the killing of Yeardley Love, a varsity lacrosse player and his former girlfriend, two years ago. Last week, Sharon Love filed a wrongful-death suit against Huguely, who is awaiting sentencing after a jury recommended that he serve 26 years for the crime.
Love declined to comment Thursday, as did a spokesman for the university athletics department. Her suit names men's lacrosse coach Dom Starsia and associate coach Marc Van Arsdale, Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage and the Commonwealth of Virginia, and seeks more than $29 million in compensatory damages.
"We are aware that suit has been filed, but to date, the plaintiff has not sought to have it served on the commonwealth defendants," said Brian J. Gottstein, spokesman for the attorney general of Virginia. "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."
The suit details previous incidents of Huguely's "out-of-control alcohol abuse" and "erratic and aggressive behavior," and contends that Starsia and other athletic officials failed to suspend him from the team, refer him for substance abuse or anger management treatment, or follow university protocol for dealing with a potentially dangerous student.
Carl W. Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, said that should the suit go to trial, a jury would have to decide whether school officials, given what they knew about Huguely, acted reasonably.
"Obviously, when you're suing Huguely, that's going to be easier and much more straightforward because he's already been convicted of the crime," Tobias said. "The liability is much clearer."
Among the prior incidents listed in the suit are a 2008 conviction for public intoxication and resisting arrest in which Huguely became violent toward a female police officer; his 2009 attack on a sleeping teammate who had been seen with Love, giving him a concussion; and a fight with Love in 2010 in which he choked her.
There are also references to Huguely's physically attacking another female Virginia student who is the daughter of his former high school lacrosse coach, and a university tennis player he saw walking with Love.