Pennsylvania Record

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Heinz Field denies responsibility in fight that killed fan at Steelers-Cowboys in 2016


By Nicholas Malfitano | Dec 19, 2018

PITTSBURGH – One of the assailants accused of killing a man in an altercation at a Pittsburgh Steelers game in November 2016 and Heinz Field deny involvement and responsibility for his death, per recent filings in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

In preliminary objections filed by defendant David Jones on Nov. 6, he denies responsibility for the death of William J. Laughlin and argues that Rebecca Laughlin’s complaint fails to state claims of negligence, assault, battery and for punitive damages against both he and co-defendant Colin Jones.

Following in an answer filed on Dec. 12, Heinz Field replied that the plaintiff’s allegations either stand as conclusions of law or address other defendants, both circumstances of which do not require official responses.

However, in new matter, it does say that William Laughlin’s death was solely caused by the Jones defendants and that security company Landmark Event Staffing Services, Inc. was contributorily negligent in that regard. It further asserts cross-claims against the other defendants in the case and requests indemnification from them.

Rebecca Laughlin of Allegheny County initially filed suit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas on Sept. 20 versus David Jones and Colin Jones of Carnegie, PSSI Stadium, LLC (a.k.a. “Heinz Field”) and Landmark Event Staffing Services, Inc., both of Pittsburgh.

The lawsuit is centered on decedent William J. Laughlin, a married father of three children who attended a Pittsburgh Steelers-Dallas Cowboys game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, on Nov. 13, 2016. At the conclusion of the game, the suit says the plaintiff and decedent were exiting Heinz Field through a tunnel leading to the concourse at the stadium.

While traveling through that tunnel, which the suit says was not monitored by security or crowd control personnel, Rebecca Laughlin bumped into the allegedly intoxicated defendant, Colin Jones. At that time, Colin glared and yelled profanity at Rebecca, she says, and in response, William retaliated with profanity at Colin and an altercation began.

Defendant David Jones entered the fray to separate the two men and in the process, William, Rebecca, Colin and David all fell to the floor, the suit says. As a result of the fall, William’s head slammed on the concrete floor, leading him to sustain blunt impact injury and causing a fatal hematoma and brain hemorrhage, the suit says.

After not responding to CPR performed by his wife the following morning, William succumbed to his injuries that same day, Nov. 14, 2016, the suit says.

The lawsuit alleges the intoxicated and criminal conduct of the assailants, in addition to the negligence of the stadium and security defendants in not staffing the stadium properly after the game, led to William’s unfortunate and untimely death.

For multiple counts of negligence, assault, battery, negligent infliction of emotional distress, the plaintiff is seeking damages, jointly and severally, in excess of the jurisdictional arbitration limit, plus interest, costs, punitive damages and a trial by jury.

The plaintiff is represented by Joshua P. Geist of Goodrich & Geist, in Pittsburgh.

The defendants are represented by Edward A. Schenck of Cipriani & Werner, Matthew S. Hronas and Gina M. Zumpella of Walsh Barnes Collis & Zumpella, plus Ashley J. Locker and Donald H. Smith of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, all in Pittsburgh.

Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas case GD-18-012225

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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Organizations in this Story

Cipriani & Werner Goodrich & Geist, P.C

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