We wrote on the Texas hazing case last month that resulted in a default judgment. Since then the judge has overturned his previous $16.2 million award against the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. You will recall the fraternity had been sued by the parents of a pledge who died after a hazing event at the University of Texas. The national organization and the local chapter failed to respond to the lawsuit and a default judgment was entered. Now the judge has accepted the fraternity’s explanation that the failure to respond was an accident and has set aside his prior order.
The lawsuit will now proceed to trial. Freshman Tyler Cross died in November 2006 after falling from the fifth floor of his off-campus apartment building. Investigators said pledges were given half-gallon bottles of liquor, and the student’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit of .08. Two pledge trainers pleaded no contest to hazing and furnishing to minors and were sentenced to four days in jail and given two years’ deferred adjudication. While this is a set back in the case for the family, the fraternity and its insurance carrier may eventually wish the $16.2 million judgment was back in place. A jury may return a much larger verdict when the case is tried based on the facts. This fraternity needs to be taught a lesson!
Source: U.S. News And World Report
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