Family of Illinois fraternity pledge files wrongful death suit

The parents of a young college student received the worst news a parent could imagine when they learned their 19-year-old son had died suddenly. It was just last November when their son, who was pledging a fraternity at Northern Illinois University, died after drinking at a fraternity party just off campus. The young man’s family recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a number of parties who they say are responsible for the devastating loss of their son.

The family is seeking over $100,000 in damages from other partygoers, the organizers of the fraternity party, the national fraternity as well as the chapter offices. They are also taking action to identify others who may have been at the party who may have contributed to the accident and say that believe more than 22 people are to blame for their loss.

According to the lawsuit, the young man was one of 18 pledges for whom the party was thrown. Despite their age, the underage students were given alcohol and were drinking very heavily on the night of the accident. Many of the pledges reportedly passed out or threw up after drinking too much. The victim had been one of the partygoers who passed out. Rather than get him medical attention, members of the fraternity put the young man on a bed where he died.

An attorney for the young man’s family says that not only are the partygoers and fraternity members to blame for the horrific accident, but those at the national fraternity should be held accountable as well. The organization has been active for decades, and systems for monitoring behavior among the members should be more effective and must go beyond policies that are not enforced.

There is nothing more tragic than losing a loved one. Family members that are left to cope with an unexpected loss are often devastated and looking for answers in the aftermath of a wrongful death. In many cases, it takes legal action to figure out what factors contributed to a fatality and what, if any, negligent or reckless behaviors played a role. Figuring out what happened and who is responsible for such a tragic accident will not undo a catastrophic accident, but it can provide family members with the answers they need and they support they deserve.

Source:, “Wrongful death suit may expand,” Jeff Engelhardt, Feb. 22, 2013

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Family of Illinois fraternity pledge files wrongful death suit