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Settlement reached in 2017 Penn State hazing death

Out-of-court settlements have been reached with over half of the defendants in the federal lawsuits arising out of the hazing death of a student at The Pennsylvania State University. The parents of the deceased student brought two lawsuits on behalf of the young man’s estate several years ago in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Essential facts surrounding the death

On Feb. 2, 2017, people participated in a pledge bid acceptance party at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house. The pledges who accepted their invitations to join the fraternity were forced to participate in an array of different drinking games. This activity violated a variety of university rules, including those against hazing.

As a result of severe intoxication, the decedent fell down a flight of steps and sustained what would prove to be fatal injuries. According to the lawsuits, the members of the fraternity failed to obtain appropriate medical care and treatment for the seriously injured young man for 11 hours. He died two days later in a local hospital.

Elements of the lawsuit

The parents of the deceased fraternity pledge make a number of claims in the wrongful death pleadings:

  • Negligence
  • Breach of the duty of care
  • The intentional infliction of emotional distress
  • Battery
  • Conspiracy

In the aftermath of the deadly fraternity hazing event, the Beta Theta Pi chapter at Penn State was closed by the national organization. The university itself also revoked recognition of the organization following its own lengthy internal investigation.