Hazing is still an unfortunate reality on school campuses and athletic fields almost everywhere you go — and Louisiana is no exception. A Georgia couple filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against a fraternity, Louisiana State University (LSU) and several individuals for their roles in the death of their son, an LSU freshman in 2017.
The student died of either alcohol poisoning or asphyxiation following a hazing ritual by the fraternity he pledged to join. Criminal charges have already been filed against four of the students involved in the incident.
The parent's wrongful death lawsuit alleges that both the fraternity and the university essentially looked the other way where hazing is concerned. They allege that the fraternity has a significant history involving hazing incidents all over the country and that LSU officials knew that activities were occurring like the one that took their son's life.
During the hazing, senior fraternity members obligated the pledges to participate in a ritual known as "bible study." Pledges were quizzed about the fraternity's history and forced to drink a quantity of alcohol each time they gave a wrong answer. The student that died had previously complained about another hazing incident and arrived late to "Bible Study." This caused senior fraternity members to signal him out for specific treatment.
The fraternity brothers eventually left the young pledge alone and unconscious despite obvious signs that he needed medical treatment. When they did finally take him to a hospital, they lied and tried to cover up what happened. When he died, the young man had a blood alcohol content (BAC) that was six times higher than the legal limit.
While LSU officials took steps after the incident to reign in hazing on its campus, the parents allege that the school should have — and could have — acted much earlier to prevent this unnecessary death.
Under the law, someone can be liable for a personal injury or wrongful death that occurs due to negligence, including the failure to act in a reasonable way to prevent a likely or foreseeable accident.
This unfortunate tragedy should remind parents everywhere to talk to their college-age children about the dangers of binge-drinking, hazing and the need to simply walk away before they become involved.