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- Gruver Jury Trial Outcome
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Newsletter > March 2023 > "Gruver Jury Trial Outcome"
Gruver Jury Trial Outcome
Micah E. Kamrass, Fraternal Law Partners, firstname.lastname@example.org
Earlier this month, a jury found that the Gruver family was entitled to $6,100,000 as damages because of the 2017 death of Max Gruver. Gruver was hazed to death by members of the Phi Delta Theta Chapter at Louisiana State University (“LSU”), in clear violation of the hazing and alcohol-free housing policies of the national Fraternity. Several of the individuals involved were already held accountable through the criminal justice system.
In this civil case, the jury awarded Max’s family $6,000,000 as actual damages, and an additional $100,000 for pain, suffering, fright, fear, or mental anguish. Interestingly, in attributing fault, the jury in the civil case found that Matthew Naquin—who had been criminally convicted of negligent homicide—was responsible for 80% of the damage, and that ten other individuals were each responsible for 2% of the damages. Max Gruver was found to be 0% responsible for the incident.
Prior to trial, the Gruver family had already reached confidential settlements with each of the Defendants, including Matthew Naquin, except for Ryan Isto. Therefore, as one of the individuals that was found to have each been 2% responsible for the damage, Isto will owe the Gruver family $122,000, making this the lone new outcome from this trial.
It is rare that these cases are tried to a jury, so the outcome is notable for a variety of reasons. First, it establishes a precedent for how juries value a hazing death. Next, it demonstrates the willingness of a jury to hold the real wrongdoers accountable, with 80% of the damage attributed to a single individual. Finally, and most importantly, the civil and criminal penalties incurred by the wrongdoers will hopefully send a powerful messages to further deter hazing in the future.