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Notre Dame To Appeal State's Lift Ruling

CHICAGO (AP) -- The University of Notre Dame has filed paperwork to appeal the findings of a state investigation regarding the death football videographer Declan Sullivan.

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Notre Dame $77,500 for ignoring industry standards that could have prevented Sullivan's death. Sullivan was killed on October 27 when the video tower from which he was filming football practice fell over due to high winds.

The school had until Thursday to accept the findings and pay the fines, contest the safety orders or meet with the agency. Agency spokeswoman Stephanie McFarland said the university filed notice that it wants to discuss the report.

"The discussions with IOSHA officials have been positive and productive," Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown said. "Though the university and IOSHA are near resolution, more time is needed to finalize the agreement. Unfortunately, the timelines imposed by statute required filing the notice of contest in order to continue these discussions."

IOSHA fined Notre Dame for six violations, including knowingly putting its employees in an unsafe situation. Other violations included a failure to make annual, monthly or weekly inspections of the lifts for more than a year; a failure to have the scissor lift serviced as required by the manufacturer; and a failure to have an operator's manual on the unit. The lift was also missing some warning labels while others were faded.

The state said its investigation ruled out mechanical failure.

The school has already replaced the lifts with remote-controlled cameras and is conducting its own investigation. The Rev. John Jenkins, university president, has said the school would study the IOSHA report and take necessary actions to protect students and staff.

The so-called scissor lifts rented by the university were not supposed to be used in winds above 28 mph, but the weather service had issued a warning the day of Sullivan's death saying winds of 25 mph to 35 mph were expected with gusts of up to 45 mph.

The IOSHA report did not identify who was responsible for making the decision to allow student videographers to go up in the lifts that day. Coach Brian Kelly told state investigators he decides whether to practice outside, relying "on information from my support staff."

Sullivan wasn't happy when he found out the team would be practicing outside, assistant video coordinator Reuel Joaquin told an IOSHA investigator. And less than an hour earlier, Sullivan had tweeted his concerns about what he described as "terrifying" weather.

"Gusts of wind up to 60 mph today will be fun at work ... I guess I've lived long enough," he wrote.

Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. STATS LLC and The Associated Press contributed to this article. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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