Harrison Brown’s mother settles lawsuit over 2017 on-campus stabbing

Lauren Girgis

The mother of Harrison Brown, a student who was fatally stabbed in 2017, has reached a settlement in a lawsuit against Kendrex White and his family. 

Harrison was stabbed two and a half years ago outside Gregory Gym by former biology junior Kendrex White, who was found not guilty of the murder by reason of insanity. Harrison’s mother, Lori Brown, filed a lawsuit in May that named the White family and Kendrex’s medical caretakers for negligent failure to control. 

“I wanted to continue fighting for Harrison,” Lori said. “I was a little disheartened after the outcome of the criminal case, and I was determined to keep fighting and doing whatever I could to fight for Harrison.” 

The suit argues that the defendants knew or should have known White’s schizoaffective disorder could cause him to potentially harm himself or others. The lawsuit states White’s caretakers and parents had a special relationship with and duty to control White’s conduct and breached their duty. 

Lori’s lawyer, Sean Breen, said after settling with White’s family, Lori declined to pursue suing the medical caretakers further. White’s lawyer in the criminal case, Jana Ortega, and AdventHealth, which was named in the suit did not respond to a request for comment. 

“Because of the way Texas law works, it's so very, very difficult to proceed against medical professionals when you're not their patient,” Breen said.

Breen said the lawsuit was settled out of court, but the amount of money that was settled upon is confidential. He said they hoped to bring some exposure and advocate for changes to the state’s mental healthcare system through the lawsuit.

“Kendrick White had fallen through the cracks in that system, and that was one very big cause of Harrison's death,” Breen said. “It was important to the family to achieve some sense of justice and accountability for Harrison.” 

Breen said the majority of cases settle out of court because the parties have certainty and control over the case, as opposed to when the case goes to a jury and is out of their control.

“I have a lot of mixed feelings,” Lori said. “Obviously, I'm glad that it's over … There are no winners in this situation. It's very tragic all around. I'm glad this part is over because now I can focus a lot of my energies on some positive things.”

Lori said she wants to work on legislation to improve safety on college campuses and raise awareness for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association. Lori’s husband and Harrison’s father, Kurt Brown, died of ALS, a nervous system disease that causes loss of muscle control, one month after Harrison was killed.

Lori said she also wants to work with Stop the Bleed, a campaign that trains people in basic bleeding control techniques in case of emergencies. Lori said she would like to see the program become mandatory for every employee on campus. 

“Especially at UT in Austin, students need to be aware,” Lori said. “There's so much going on around them … Students, parents and University faculty need to be made aware of warning signs and be able to have ways that they can quickly and swiftly intervene before somebody else gets murdered.”