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Fraternity faces wrongful death lawsuit after drinking death

In recent years, it seems that there has been many stories in the news about young college students being injured or killed due to fraternity or sorority-related activities on college campuses. News reports detailing alcohol overdoses and harmful hazing rituals have shocked many people here in Michigan, and these stories must be particularly concerning for parents of college-aged young adults.

Last month, a wrongful death lawsuit was reinstated in Indiana against the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. That lawsuit stems from the tragic death of an 18-year-old. He passed away after passing out during a "Pledge Family Drink Night," according to a news report. When he was found dead his blood alcohol content was more than five times the legal limit of .08 percent.

As mentioned above, the victim's family has sued the national fraternity--which has chapters at about 125 colleges--for wrongful death. A court ruled in early May that the national fraternity must stand trial in the case, and that ruling is very significant.

Many fraternities are based in Indiana, where this case is taking place, and the ruling that the national fraternity must stand trial for the death that took place at one of its chapters is the first of its kind in Indiana.

It has been reported that the court's decision to potentially hold the national chapter accountable may spur national fraternities to become more involved in how the chapters are run in order to prevent injuries and deaths.

As we have previously discussed in this Michigan Personal Injury Law Blog, wrongful death actions are important because they allow loved ones of those who are killed due to someone else's negligence hold that individual or organization accountable. This is done by obtaining compensation for funeral expenses, a lost source of income and pain and suffering, among other things. Such actions often also result in changes that will prevent the same type of negligence from harming someone else. In this case, this lawsuit has the potential to motivate national fraternities to crack down on binge drinking within their chapter houses.

Source: concordmonitor.com, "Fraternity risk for drinking deaths rises after court ruling," David Glovin, May 17, 2013

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