This past semester, more than four young men have died from college fraternity hazing. Two of those deaths occurred in November 2019. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon.
Since 2016, the number of fraternity hazing deaths have been on the rise. This is despite policy changes at many universities, anti-hazing laws and activism.
Many believe that the toxic culture in these fraternities contributes to the hazing deaths. Alcohol served at events, coupled with hazing culture leads to deaths.
A recent high-profile case was the hazing death of Timothy Piazza. His participation in a Penn State University hazing event resulted in a blood alcohol content (BAC) of nearly four times the legal limit. He fell down basement stairs and suffered traumatic brain injuries and internal organ damage. His fraternity brothers did not seek help for him until the next morning.
What Is Hazing?
Hazing is any action or situation that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule and that risks emotional or physical harm to a member of a group. Hazing is about power and control. It does not build unity, as some would believe.
Some examples of hazing include:
- Forced activities to recruits to prove their “worth”
- Required consumption of alcohol
- Required to eat spicy food or dangerous substances
- Required to endure hardships
- Paddling or beating
- Illegal activities
Hazing occurs in a variety of institutions across America. These institutions may include sports teams, clubs and honor societies. However, fraternities and sororities have taken the spotlight in recent years.
Part of the difficulty in eradicating hazing is the secrecy surrounding it. Fraternity members pledge secrecy about the events that take place during pledge week and on other nights. As such, hazing continues despite organizations’ best efforts. In fact, two out of five students currently attending school said they were aware of hazing on their campus.
Who Is Liable for a Hazing Death?
Willingness to participate in the event or in the activity does not absolve responsibility for hazing. Individuals who participate in hazing may face disciplinary action at school. They may also face criminal charges as well. In general, anyone who knowingly participates in hazing or who turns a blind eye to hazing may be liable for a hazing death. This could include:
- College students
- Local chapter
- National chapter
In most hazing injury or death cases, the fraternity and individuals bear the responsibility for fraternity hazing deaths. Colleges and universities have avoided liability based on the “no duty” rule. This rule states that the relationship between a college and a student is purely educational. The university bears no responsibility to govern student behavior.
Contact Our Houston Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
At the Law Office of Daniel D. Horowitz, III, PC, our attorney has the experience and resources needed to tackle any type of wrongful death case. Our firm has recovered over $100 million in settlements and verdicts for grieving Texas families.
We know that no amount of compensation could ever replace the loss of your loved one. Yet, we believe that you and your family should not also have to shoulder unnecessary financial burdens during your time of grief.
Call us at (832) 460-5181 or fill out our confidential contact form for more information. We start by listening to you and your concerns and then helping you choose the legal option that is best for you.