Columbus, GA, Fraternity Hazing Wrongful Death Attorneys
Getting Justice for the Families of Fraternity Hazing Wrongful Death Victims in Columbus, GA
For many people, going to college is a big part of the American Dream. Parents send their kids off to college with hopes they will attain the skills and knowledge needed to live a better life. Sadly, there’s a dark side to the college experience called hazing that may turn the dream of earning a college degree into a nightmare.
According to NBC News, there have been more than 50 hazing-related deaths since 2000. Colleges, fraternities, and students who participate in these gruesome rituals must be held accountable for the harm they cause. If your loved one was killed in a hazing incident, you have the right to seek justice.
People in Columbus, Georgia, have a strong commitment to learning and education, and you enjoy visiting places like the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center and the Coca-Cola Space Science Center at Columbus State University.
Butler Prather LLP has been helping people in Columbus for over 35 years. Our law firm has won settlements and verdicts for clients in over 30 states. We’ve won nine verdicts that exceed $100 million and over 60 verdicts and settlements of over $10 million.
Call (706) 322-1990 to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Columbus injury lawyer today.
What Is Fraternity Hazing?
Hazing is a ritual that uses humiliation, harassment, and abuse to initiate a person into some type of group, team, club, or organization. It involves intentionally committed behavior that causes discomfort, humiliation, endangerment, mental stress, or physical harm.
Hazing preys upon the insecurities of people who are seeking acceptance from their peers. Researchers have discovered three common elements that define hazing:
- It occurs in a group setting.
- Victims are forced to commit actions they wouldn’t otherwise engage in.
- The behavior is meant to humiliate victims.
Examples of Fraternity Hazing
Some people try to defend fraternity hazing by arguing that it’s just a harmless activity that’s been going on for a long time, but hazing cannot be justified. Although it’s true that hazing been around for years, that doesn’t make it okay.
Hazing can be found in various types of organizations, including fraternities, sororities, workplaces, sports teams, and the military. It frequently involves harassment, intimidation, and violence. Examples of hazing include:
- Physical abuse
- Beating, spanking, and paddling
- Abduction and kidnapping
- Sexual abuse
- Exposure to the elements
- Forced drug and alcohol consumption
- Forced consumption of food
- Social isolation
- Excessive fatigue
- Verbal abuse
- Sleep deprivation
- Public nudity
- Forcing people to wear embarrassing clothing
How Hazing Causes Harm
There has been a lot of public pressure to eliminate hazing in recent years, but the practice persists in many fraternities and sororities throughout the nation. Hazing is explicitly prohibited by Georgia Law, and fraternity members have faced criminal and civil prosecution for death and injuries resulting from hazing rituals.
Georgia’s anti-hazing law states that “it shall be unlawful for any person to haze any student in connection with or as a condition or precondition of gaining acceptance, membership, office, or other status in a school organization.” Under this statute, hazing is classified as a misdemeanor of “high and aggravated nature,” and conviction carries up to 12 months in jail. Defendants are subject to more severe penalties when hazing results in death.
Hazing-related deaths and injuries have resulted from the following:
- Alcohol poisoning
- Automobile crashes
A common hazing ritual involves forcing fraternity and sorority members to consume vast amounts of alcohol, and this practice has devastating consequences. A student at Bowling Green State University named Stone Foltz died from alcohol poisoning that resulted from a fraternity initiation ritual. After pressuring him to consume vast quantities of alcohol, Fi Kappa Alpha fraternity members dropped Stone off at his apartment, where he later died.
In civil actions following his death, Stone’s family was awarded $2.9 million from the university and more than $7 million from Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and people who played a role in his death. Bowling Green expelled the fraternity as a result of the incident.
Another tragic hazing-related death occurred at Northern Illinois University. Student David Bogenberger, who was only 19 and well below the legal drinking age, participated in an event involving members of several fraternities and sororities where pledges were asked a series of questions and required to drink vodka that was poured for them by sorority and fraternity members.
After he consumed large quantities of alcohol, Pi Kappa Alpha members moved David to his room instead of seeking medical assistance. When David died, his BAC was five times the legal limit. Two dozen fraternity members were held criminally liable for David’s death, and his family collected a $14 million legal settlement.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit may be an option for the victim’s survivors when a wrongful or negligent act results in death. In Georgia, surviving family members, including the victim’s spouse, children, or parents, may seek compensation.
A wrongful death lawsuit seeks monetary damages for “the full value of the victim’s life.” This may include:
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Loss of love and companionship
- Funeral and burial costs
- Medical expenses incurred before death
- Lost income and benefits
- Punitive damages
How Your Columbus Fraternity Hazing Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
Organizations that harm students must not be affiliated with colleges in any way. Columbus wrongful death attorneys at Butler Prather LLP will investigate the circumstances that led to your loved one’s death and file a lawsuit against anyone whose negligence contributed to the tragedy. This may include:
- Colleges and universities
- National fraternity organizations
- Fraternity and sorority members
- Bars and restaurants
We’ve Won Over a Billion Dollars for Our Clients
A civil lawsuit will prevent senseless hazing deaths from occurring in the future, so other families won’t have to suffer the tremendous pain you are experiencing.
At Butler Prather LLP, we’ve successfully taken on some of the most powerful interests in the nation, and we won’t back down from anybody. You can count on our Georgia college hazing death lawyers to support you in your pursuit of justice.
Contact us at (706) 322-1990 to schedule your free consultation today, and let’s see how we can help.