Are Colleges Responsible for Wrongful Death in Fraternity Fatalities?
Salt Lake City wrongful death attorney Christian Burridge understands devastation many families in Utah face. Over the years, he has utilized a compassionate and comprehensive approach to help family members during this difficult time.
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Are Colleges Responsible for Wrongful Death in Fraternity Fatalities?

May 19, 2017 By bridgelawadmin

Are Colleges Responsible for Wrongful Death in Fraternity Fatalities?

 

Fraternities and sororities have long been an important part of the college experience.  Some of the nation’s top leaders and most successful people were members of fraternities. For many, it has created lifelong bonds of friendship and even future business opportunities. Unfortunately, there has also been a long tradition of alcohol in connection with fraternity initiations and hazing rituals. The recent death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza has recently brought to light the dangers of frat behavior and whether college and universities should be held accountable for the safety and well-being of their students.

Eight members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity on the Pennsylvania State University campus are facing criminal charges in connection with Piazza’s death. The case has received national attention. A severely intoxicated Piazza fell down the stairs while pledging for the fraternity. The eight fraternity brothers are facing charges of recklessly endangering another person, tampering with evidence and hazing.  Piazza’s case may go beyond just a manslaughter case. Many legal experts believe Piazza’s family may have a wrongful death case against the university and fraternity.

Does Penn State Face Wrongful Death?

When parents send their kids off to college, the last thing they ever expect is for their child to be in danger. Yet, countless young people have died due to reckless fraternity hazing rituals. In the Penn State case, members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity waited several hours before anyone called for assistance. By the time paramedics arrived at the scene, it was too late. CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman is among those who believe a wrongful death lawsuit is inevitable.

“Ultimately you have the possibility here of a wrongful death suit on behalf of the family,” Klieman said. “And the only way they get justice under the law is either in money or in punishment. So would they go after the university, as well as the fraternity and the individuals? I certainly think that they would.”

According to Tom Kline, the Piazza family attorney, several fraternities on the Penn State campus have a notorious reputation for hazing rituals. The problem was serious enough for the university to implement a task force. It raises questions whether Penn State officials knew about what was going on at Beta Theta Phi.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Unlike criminal cases, wrongful death is a civil suit in which the family members or those close to victim seek monetary damages. A wrongful death attorney would have to prove Piazza’s death was caused due to the negligence of the university, fraternity, and the individual members. Typically wrongful death cases are filed when criminal litigation has failed. Perhaps the most famous case was filed by the family of Ronald Goldman against O.J. Simpson. Although Simpson was acquitted by a Los Angeles jury of double-murder, a civil court ruled Simpson would have to pay $27 million in punitive damages.

A Salt Lake City Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

Unfortunately, wrongful death can happen anywhere. If you have lost a family member or loved-one due to the negligence of others, you are entitled to seek compensation. Salt Lake City wrongful death attorney Christian Burridge understands devastation many families in Utah face. Over the years, he has utilized a compassionate and comprehensive approach to help family members during this difficult time. To learn more, contact the Christian Burridge Law Firm and schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.