Ithaca, N.Y. — After three years of bitter disagreement, a lawsuit over a Cornell student’s suicide came to an end in a settlement this September.

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Father Howard Ginsburg agreed to drop his legal battle in exchange for a $100,000 payment from the city and a Cornell scholarship in honor of his son, Bradley Ginsburg, who committed suicide in 2010. The terms of the settlement and scholarship would be announced at a later date.

Court documents filed this month in Tompkins County Surrogate’s Court now show that the scholarship will not require Cornell to spend any additional money.

“Cornell is solely using existing financial aid funds to establish the scholarship … and is not allocating any new money to fund this scholarship,” said Judge David Hurd in an order dated from September.

“Cornell insisted, and the parties agreed, that Cornell would not make any payment to plaintiff in any way whatsoever, whether monetary or otherwise.”

Media outlets, including Ithaca Voice, reported in September that the settlement would involve $1.6 million from Cornell. That figure was based off a memo from Ginsburg’s attorney.

However, Hurd’s order makes clear that Cornell’s portion of the settlement involves no payment from the university — either to Ginsburg or to a scholarship fund.

“There is no monetary value or any other value to the plaintiff with regard to this settlement and no such payment is incorporated in these terms of settlement,” Judge Hurd writes.

Hurd’s order explaining the nature of the settlement was filed in the local court system because Howard Ginsburg’s former lawyer is now trying to recover attorney fees as part of the settlement.

The following details of the scholarship are also relayed in Judge Hurd’s memo:

— Cornell will establish the “Bradley Ginsburg Memorial Scholarship” for students who show “honor, integrity, academic excellence, hard work” and other positive attributes.

— Scholarship recipients will come from the part of Florida where Ginsburg resided.

— Cornell will also establish an annual award named after Bradley Ginsburg for a freshman working for Cornell Dining who “exemplifies the traits of hard work and positive attitude.”

— Each recipient of the award will have a plaque with his or her name on it.

The recently filed documents also show messages exchanged between Cornell and Ginsburg in which university officials made the case for Howard Ginsburg to accept their settlement offer.

“As we present this proposal to you for consideration, we believe it is also important to note that the University already has expended $7,210,000 in install nets under the seven high-gorge bridges on or adjacent to campus, along with additional fencing,” Cornell’s attorneys write in a letter in August.

“As noted earlier, you have claimed repeatedly in discussions with us that this lawsuit is not about the money. With the nets and fences installed, it cannot be about the safety of the bridges, either. This leaves only honoring Bradley’s memory.”


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.