- IMPORTANCE OF PHILANTHROPY
- CALIFORNIA TRAGEDY $100,000,000 LAWSUIT
- RELATIONSHIP STATEMENTS: AN EFFORT TO FACILITATE A RELATIONSHIP?
- ENFORCEMENT OF TRADEMARKS
- STUDENT RECORDS -- PRIVATE OR NOT?
Newsletter > November 2002 > "CALIFORNIA TRAGEDY $100,000,000 LAWSUIT"
CALIFORNIA TRAGEDY $100,000,000 LAWSUIT
Timothy M. Burke, Manley & Burke
On September 9, 2002, at an oceanfront state park near Playa del Rey, California, two young women – one the mother of a two-year old who was engaged to be married – were swept out to sea and drowned. The family of one of those young women has now filed a $100,000,000 wrongful death lawsuit against Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) and five of its members.
In an interview on CNN with Paula Zahn, the mother of one of the victims claimed that her daughter was blindfolded, had her hands tied and was led into ten foot high Pacific Ocean waves. The mother argues that the drowning occurred at a time when her daughter was pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha and that taking her daughter into the ocean was part of the sorority’s hazing.
AKA issued a press release indicating that it has no chapter at the California State University campus where the women attended school. The victim’s mother said that the chapter her daughter was pledging was a citywide chapter whose membership came from several campuses in the area. A story detailing the tragedy in The Chronicle of Higher Education quotes a local police spokesperson as saying that it was the local police who pulled the women out of the ocean and that “they were not tied up, and there is no evidence that they were blindfolded.”
The tragedy has drawn international attention. The Times of London carried a story on October 19, 2002, detailing the events that led to the deaths and the mystery surrounding them. The article acknowledged the history of hazing by both largely white and traditionally black Greek groups. According to the Times:
“The lawsuit, if successful, threatens to bankrupt an organization that was instrumental in America’s civil rights movement and whose members included Ella Fitzgerald and Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s widow.”