NIU Frat Members Named in Wrongful Death Suit

The family of a Northern Illinois University freshman who died after drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is suing the fraternity who hosted the pledge party for wrongful death.

In the lawsuit, the family of David Bogenberger alleges that members of the Pi Kappa Alpha house encouraged their son to drink large amounts of alcohol and failed to provide assistance when Bogenberger became unconscious.

An autopsy revealed that Bogenberger, 19, had a blood alcohol level of .4, nearly five times the legal driving limit for adults.  In the suit, the Bogenberger’s stated that the fraternity did not follow national hazing policies, and their actions caused their son to consume “excessive and dangerous amounts of alcohol”.

Peter Coladarci, the family’s attorney, argued that the nationally recognized fraternity did not adequately ensure that their chapters knew about the dangers of overconsumption.

“The national organization has a responsibility to provide meaningful training, supervision and oversight to its local chapters, so that fraternity members understand that alcohol-related hazing is … potentially deadly,” said Coladarci.

Underage consumption is common on college campuses, but fatalities are not.  One study suggests that roughly 12 underage students die each year due overconsumption.

All 22 members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity were named in the lawsuit.  Each individual faces criminal charges, while five leaders have been charged with felony hazing.

Attorney Sean Sullivan comments

Regrettably, hazing incidents seem to be ever increasing in the news these days.

Whether it is extreme binge drinking at a college fraternity party, or physical assaults among high-school athletic teams, young people are being hurt. Illinois in particular has seen several incidents at the high school level in the last year or so.

The best way to protect these young people and end hazing is to stand up to these bullies and draw attention to the problem. Filing lawsuits will help bring attention to these incidents and put these bullies on notice that these particularly callous or negligent acts will not be tolerated anymore.

Related source:  Chicago Tribune

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