The media has covered several stories lately chronicling the dangers of hazing in fraternities and sororities. When students take initiation rituals too far, the consequences can be devastating for those involved. Although the police may investigate potential charges against the individuals responsible for the injuries that result, the victim and his or her loved ones may have a civil claim to recover compensation for their injuries.
In a recent case, the North Carolina Court of Appeals considered an unfortunate situation in which a student died while at the apartment of another student. The victim was a pledge of a local fraternity chapter and his estate brought a claim against the fraternity and other individuals alleging that the victim lost his life as a direct result of the fraternity’s failure to protect the victim from the dangers of hazing-related activities.
The fraternity moved for summary judgment and the trial court granted the motion on the basis that the plaintiff failed to plead facts showing that the victim’s death was the foreseeable cause of the fraternity’s conduct. The victim’s estate appealed.