UW-Madison ends affiliation with Rome university where student died during study abroad program

Parents settle lawsuit with John Cabot University

MADISON, Wis. - The University of Wisconsin-Madison has ended its affiliation with a Rome university where a student died in July 2016 during a study abroad program. 

In 2017, Nick and Jodi Solomon filed a civil case against John Cabot University, where their son, Beau Solomon, had been planning on taking classes before he was pushed into the Tiber River during an argument with a group of homeless people on the first night of his summer study abroad program. The case between the family and the school was settled recently. 

UW-Madison spokesperson Meredith McGlone said the college ended its Rome affiliation with John Cabot University in the summer of 2018 and moved to the nearby CIEE: Open Campus. She said that the decision was not in response to the settlement, but because of better educational opportunities. 

"At UW-Madison, we continue to believe that the overwhelmingly positive educational experiences provided by study abroad programs are an important part of a college education," McGlone said. "We also believe that we’re applying the right resources and working together with public agencies to mitigate risks to our students abroad."

Court documents did not have details on the settlement. Attorney for the Solomons, Bob Gingras, said on Monday that he has no comment at this time.

“JCU President Franco Pavoncello has stated that it is not his responsibility as president of JCU to evaluate the dangers of Rome’s nightlife,” the lawsuit stated. “As a direct and proximate result of JCU’s negligence, Beau was fatally injured and Nick and Jodi Solomon have suffered permanent mental anguish, incurred medical expenses, have been deprived of expected pecuniary benefits, and suffered the loss of Beau’s society and companionship.”

In September, Jodi and Nick Solomon testified in a hearing in the manslaughter trial against Massimo Galioto, who is accused of pushing their son into the river.

The statement from UW-Madison also said that, while all risks cannot be eliminated, the university is taking additional steps to make sure that its study abroad programs operate in safe environments. 

Correction: Previous reporting implied that the University of Wisconsin-Madison was a party in the lawsuit, which is not accurate. 

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