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Newsletter > January 2022 > "Fraternity Sued for Negligence Following Death Caused by Drug Overdose"
Fraternity Sued for Negligence Following Death Caused by Drug Overdose
Tim Burke, Fraternal Law Partners, firstname.lastname@example.org
On the morning of January 17, 2020, Eitan Weiner, 19 years old, was found dead in a bathroom stall in the Theta Delta Chi house at Stanford University. Last month, his parents, dad a faculty member and mom Associate Vice President of the medical center at Stanford, filed suit against the University, the Theta Delta Chi Founder’s Corporation, and four individuals, three of whom were members of the chapter at the time of Eitan’s death.
The allegations of the complaint are that Eitan and three of the individual defendants arranged to purchase illegal drugs from the fourth individual defendant, a drug dealer who was not associated with the Fraternity, and to have the drugs mailed to them at the chapter house. Eitan is alleged to have overdosed on those drugs on January 15, 2020. By the time first responders arrived following a 911 call, he had recovered and declined further treatment. According to the complaint Eitan “died of Fentanyl toxicity and blunt force trauma to his head” two days later.
The cause of action against is university is that its negligence was the cause of Eitan’s wrongful death. The Plaintiffs also brought a similar cause of action against the Fraternity. There is no claim that Eitan’s death had anything to do with hazing or the programs of the Fraternity. The basic theme of the complaint is that “A Culture of Drug and Alcohol Abuse has Infected Stanford’s Campus” and there was history of “Alcohol and Drug Abuse at Theta Delta Chi Fraternity”. The complaint notes the Fraternity had a clear policy prohibiting illegal drugs in the chapter. In spite of this, Plaintiffs claim that the Fraternity did nothing to ensure compliance with that rule, even after Eitan’s initial overdose at the chapter. The complaint also claims the Fraternity failed to notify the University about the presence of drugs following that initial overdose…even though the complaint acknowledges that the Fraternity’s Resident Assistant, who was both a member of the Fraternity and an employee of the University, reported the situation to his supervisor, the University’s Resident Dean, upon learning of Eitan’s condition.
As with so many drug overdose deaths, especially those in the nationwide Fentanyl epidemic, this is a tragic case. But there is a critical element of individual responsibility that complaints like this one fail to recognize. Eitan, along with two of his roommates who are defendants in the suit, decided to purchase drugs (using bitcoin) that they knew to be illegal. They also chose to ship the drugs to the fraternity house in knowing violation of the rules of the Fraternity. Ultimately, it was Eitan who made the decision to ingest the drugs.
Obviously, this matter is in its very early stages. It remains to seen what Plaintiffs will actually be able to prove, and if there is enough to convince a jury that either the University or the Fraternity actions or inactions rose to the level of negligence responsible for this young man’s death.
 Weiner et al v. Leland Stanford Junior University et al, Superior Court of the State of California for Santa Clara County, Case No. 21CV391881