- Greek Life Revitalization Report
- New Suit Alleging Procedural Deficincies Filed Against USC
- Cornell University vs. New York Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi Association
- Hazing Death Settlements: Serafin-Bazan and Foltz
- “We’ve Got You Covered” – Qualified Immunity Provides Protection to University’s Title IX Investigators
Newsletter > January 2023 > "Hazing Death Settlements: Serafin-Bazan and Foltz"
Hazing Death Settlements: Serafin-Bazan and Foltz
Sebastian Serafin-Bazan was a freshman at the University at Buffalo when, in April 2019, he passed away days after being found unresponsive in the yard of an off-campus fraternity house.2 His death followed an alleged Sigma Pi hazing incident where he was ordered to perform exercises that led to physical distress and ultimately, cardiac arrest.3 It is also alleged that Serafin-Bazan suffered from blunt-force injuries and ulcers in various places on his body4; no drugs or alcohol were found to be in Serafin-Bazan’s system.5
In July 2020, the mother of Serafin-Bazan filed a lawsuit in the Westchester County State Supreme Court, seeking $800,000 against UB Heights Housing LLC, four unidentified fraternity members, Sigma Pi Fraternity, the Epsilon-Omicron Chapter of Sigma Pi, the state of New York, and the University at Buffalo.6 The lawsuit originally alleged that hazing caused Serafin-Bazan’s death, and that the defendants “acted recklessly in failing to ensure the Plaintiff received medical attention and caused and/or contributed to his death by their reckless disregard for his wellbeing.”7 The Complaint also alleged that the Defendants “permitted hazing to occur and recklessly allowed the Fraternity to exist despite prior violations and suspensions as a result of prior similar conduct.”8
The Complaint was amended twice: the first time involved moving the claims against the state of New York and the University at Buffalo to the Court of Claims, into a separate suit seeking $20 million, and to name eight (8) additional fraternity members as defendants in the Westchester County case.9 The second amendment to the Complaint was to add six (6) more fraternity members as named defendants.10 After an investigation by the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, and unlike in other recent hazing death cases in which the students involved have simultaneously faced criminal hazing charges, no criminal charges were brought against any individuals connected to this death.11
Earlier this month, Serafin-Bazan’s family was offered $500,000 to settle the wrongful death lawsuit currently pending against the non-state actor defendants (e.g. the Fraternity and individual members), but there has been no report of acceptance.12
Meanwhile, Stone Foltz’s family has reached a settlement with Bowling Green State University (BGSU) to resolve its claims against BGSU following the tragic death of Stone Foltz. Specifically, BGSU will pay the Foltz family $2.9 million dollars, which has been reported to be the largest payout by a public school in Ohio in a hazing case.13
As with Serafin-Bazan’s separate case against the state actors in the NY Court of Claims, the Foltz’s had filed a separate cause of action against the public university in Ohio’s Court of Claims, and that is the case for which the $2.9 million settlement pertains. However, unlike in the Serafin-Bazan matter, eight (8) individuals were either convicted or pled guilty to various criminal charges related to Foltz’s death. This settlement with BGSU does not impact the remaining claims in the Foltz’s other civil case, which is still pending against several individual fraternity members. Pi Kappa Alpha has already settled with the Foltz family and therefore was dismissed from the case last year.
Rex Elliott, the attorney representing the Foltz family in the civil cases, called the settlement representative of a “historic day in the battle to end hazing.” He also proclaimed that “Greek organization will not survive if hazing doesn’t come to an end,” a sentiment that certainly does not fall on deaf ears.
 Gracie Woodyard is a legal intern at Manley Burke and is a second-year law student at the University of Dayton.
2 Jay Tokasz, $500,000 Offered to Settle Suit Over 2019 Death of UB Student in Alleged Frat Hazing, BUFFALO NEWS, (Jan. 9, 2022), https://buffalonews.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/500-000-offered-to-settle-suit- over-2019-death-of-ub-student-in-alleged-frat/article_3619d09e-8252-11ed-a90c- 2b2f97c65220.html?utm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=campaign_5893484_nl_Dail
5 Charlie Specht, Family of UB Student Files Lawsuit in Hazing Death, WKBW (Aug. 24, 2020, 1:46 PM), https://www.wkbw.com/news/local-news/family-of-ub-student-files-lawsuit-in-hazing-death.
6 Tokasz, supra note 2.
7 Complaint at *100, Correa v. UB Heights Hous. LLC, No. 57952/ 2020 (N.Y.S.C. July 31, 2020).
9 Tokasz, supra note 2.
13 Sheridan Hendrix, Bowling Green State University Settles Hazing Suit with Stone Foltz’s Family for Record $2.9M, Columbus Dispatch(Jan. 23, 2023, 2:46PM), https://www.dispatch.com/story/news/education/2023/01/23/stone-foltz-hazing-lawsuit-settlement-with-bowling-green-state-university-bgsu/69828757007/.
 Associated Press, Family Gets Nearly $3M Settlement in Hazing Death Lawsuit, TV6 (Jan. 24, 2023, 1:40AM), https://www.uppermichiganssource.com/2023/01/24/family-gets-nearly-3m-settlement-hazing-death-lawsuit/.