Student's parents sue over stabbing

3 men accused in death targeted in civil lawsuit

November 20, 2003|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

The parents of a University of Maryland student who was fatally stabbed during an off-campus party last fall are suing the three men accused in his death.

In a lawsuit filed in Howard Circuit Court this month, Carol and William Malstrom III blame the three for playing different roles during a fight the night their son, Brandon, 20, died.

Two of the men - John Ryan Schlamp, 25, of Columbia and Quan L. Davis, 24, of Hanover - were acquitted of murder charges by a Prince George's County jury this year, and those not guilty findings "tore at their heart," said the Malstroms' attorney, Jay D. Miller of Lutherville.

Schlamp and Davis were convicted of riot and other lesser offenses in the case. Each was sentenced in July to 13 years in prison.

A misdemeanor assault charge against the third man, Robert A. Fournier, 23, of Columbia, is pending. Prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence to pursue a murder charge against Fournier.

The burden of proof is much less stringent in the civil arena, said Miller, who represents the Malstroms with his partner, Joseph Murtha.

"They want to hold these three accountable for the death of Brandon," Miller said. " ... As trite as it may sound, they really are interested in justice."

Brandon Malstrom and his brother, Bill, were at an off-campus party held to celebrate homecoming at College Park on Nov. 10 last year when a fight broke out, according to testimony.

Authorities have said a drunken Schlamp confronted Malstrom over a cellular phone.

The lawsuit accuses Schlamp and Davis of picking fights with revelers. Schlamp confronted Brandon Malstrom and punched him in the face, while Fournier grabbed the 20-year-old around the neck and held him, and Davis, who had showed off a knife earlier, "reached for his hip," according to the lawsuit.

After police arrived, Bill Malstrom found his brother in a nearby yard suffering from a stab wound in his abdomen. Brandon Malstrom, a Dulaney High School graduate studying business at College Park, was later pronounced dead.

During the summer sentencing for Schlamp and Davis, Prince George's County Circuit Judge Ronald D. Schiff said the men's actions were "the spark that ignited the fight that led to the death" of Malstrom.

The Malstroms are suing Schlamp, Davis and Fournier for assault, battery, emotional distress and wrongful death. The lawsuit seeks $10 million.

Any money recovered would be used for a foundation the Malstroms created in Brandon's memory, Murtha said. The Brandon James Malstrom Memorial Fund provides scholarships for public school students who want to attend college, the lawyers said.

Baltimore attorney Warren A. Brown, who represented Davis during the criminal trial, said that unlike the O.J. Simpson case, in which survivors were able to collect money from the former pro football player, there's "nothing to get" from his client.

"God bless them. Go ahead. I don't know what's to be gained from it," Brown said of the Malstroms' suit.

Schlamp's father, John Randolph Schlamp, said that while his son is guilty of assaulting Brandon Malstrom, he did not kill him.

"My son didn't do it. He's paying such a dear price for partying down there," he said. " ... Every dime Ryan had in the world went to defend him for something he's innocent of."

David M. Simpson, who represents Fournier, did not return calls seeking comment. Fournier's trial is scheduled for Feb. 11.

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