- ASSOCIATION RIGHTS OF CHAPTER DENIED
- FINAL DISCLOSURE RULES ARE ISSUED
- $930,000.00 AWARDED IN KENTUCKY HAZING CASE
- NEBRASKA UNIVERSITIES HAVE DUTY TO PROTECT STUDENTS AGAINST HAZING
Newsletter > January 2000 > "$930,000.00 AWARDED IN KENTUCKY HAZING CASE"
$930,000.00 AWARDED IN KENTUCKY HAZING CASE
Gary E. Powell
On July 30, 1999, a Kentucky jury awarded over $930,000.00 to a former University of Louisville student who claimed he was badly beaten as a result of hazing by the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Shawn A. Blackston was awarded $181,428.00 for medical expenses, lost wages and mental and physical suffering. In addition, he was awarded $750,000.00 in punitive damages against the historically Black fraternity.
[The testimony at trial showed that the chapter members involved in the beating and other hazing practices kept the hazing secret from national fraternity officials.]
Mr. Blackston alleged that he was beaten with a wooden paddle by Omega Psi Phi chapter members in 1997. Mr. Blackston and other prospective members at the University of Louisville chapter were also forced to eat dog food, stay up all night and run around a track carrying bricks. Mr. Blackston was hospitalized for acute kidney failure as a result of the hazing.
Since at least 1990, when Omega Psi Phi and the other National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) fraternities and sororities adopted a membership intake process, the fraternity has banned hazing and does not permit physical contact during the membership intake process. The testimony at trial showed that the chapter members involved in the beating and other hazing practices kept the hazing secret from national fraternity officials. Nonetheless, the jury found that the Omega Psi Phi National knew or should have known that the fraternity chapter was hazing initiates. The jury also found that the national fraternity failed to exercise sufficient care to ensure that students participating in the membership intake process would not suffer injuries as a result of hazing.
The jury determined that Mr. Blackston should receive 95% of the jury award because it found him only 5% responsible for what had happened.