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- BLACK FACE CONTROVERSY REDUX
- 44 INDIVIDUALS SUED IN DEATH OF PLEDGE
- NEVADA DROWNING LEADS TO HAZING CHARGES
- FIRST AMENDMENT PERMITS MUSLIMS TO EXCLUDE WOMEN
- MIT -- THE FRATERNITY SETTLEMENT EMPHASIZES EDUCATION AND PREVENTION
- NEW IRS PUBLICATION ON FRATERNITY FOUNDATION GRANTS
- RELATIONSHIP STATEMENTS ARKANSAS STYLE -- NO WOMEN NEEDED
- COUNTERPOINT: RELATIONSHIP STATEMENTS AS AN EFFORT TO USURP CONTROL
Newsletter > January 2003 > "44 INDIVIDUALS SUED IN DEATH OF PLEDGE"
44 INDIVIDUALS SUED IN DEATH OF PLEDGE
Timothy M. Burke, Manley Burke, email@example.com
Two years ago, in December of 2000, Terry Sterling died, allegedly as a result of choking on his own vomit after a bout of binge drinking. Sterling had been a freshman at Old Dominion University and a pledge of Alpha Tau Omega. Some students had faced University discipline; however, the University dismissed all cases because there was “insufficient evidence to find them in violation.” Alpha Tau Omega revoked the charter of the local chapter and the University moved to close the chapter.
The family filed a lawsuit against the national fraternity and the former local chapter seeking $5.35 million in damages. That suit was settled on the eve of trial for an undisclosed amount.
That did not end the story, however. On November 22, 2002, Kandi Sterling, the student’s mother, sued 44 individual defendants, including the couple that owned the house where the party took place and individual members of the former chapter who are alleged to have had some responsibility for Sterling’s drinking.
Tragedies like the death of Terry Sterling shouldn’t happen to begin with, and wouldn’t happen if chapter members took reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the laws regarding the consumption of alcohol. It ought to be clear from lawsuits like those brought in the Sterling case and in the MIT cases discussed elsewhere in this issue, that when tragedies do occur because chapter members failed to accept and acknowledge their individual responsibilities to obey the law, it is not just the chapter or the national fraternity which is going to suffer the consequences. Individuals who had a hand in causing the tragedy are just as likely to be defendants in the litigation that follows.