Nevada: Fraternity Hazing Death
Estate of Deceased College Student v. Pi Kappa Alpha House Corporation, et al. Retained by the family of deceased college student to assist their local counsel, Marquis & Aurbach of Las Vegas, Nevada, in civil litigation arising out of the hazing death by drowning of their son during a fraternity pledge event at the University of Nevada, Reno. Depositions of the National Fraternity's representatives were taken, which exposed serious flaws in the Fraternity's risk-management, alcohol and hazing policies.
In particular, this Fraternity, like most others, believed that it was acceptable to charter local chapters yet disavow any duties or responsibilities for establishing or overseeing policies that protect students and initiates from alcohol misuse and hazing (prevalent misconduct in fraternities across the country). Thus, the National Fraternity filed a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking to avoid any liability for the death of the Client. The National Fraternity had successfully evaded liability in a similar case arising in Kansas (we were not legal counsel in that case), and it tried the same thing in this case hoping that the same type of arguments that worked in Kansas would work again. The Nevada court rejected the Fraternity's Motion. Shortly thereafter, the family received substantial pre-trial financial settlements from numerous defendants, including the National Fraternity.