- JUDGE DISMISSES BERKELEY ZONING CASE
- PURDUE WITHDRAWS RECOGNITION OF FRATERNITY
- SEARCH HELD UNREASONABLE
- INJURED FORMER PLEDGE SUES PHI GAMMA DELTA
- UPDATE ON CLS V. MARTINEZ
- SOCIAL MEDIA ALERT – FACEBOOK USED AGAINST RUSH CANDIDATES
- ARKANSAS DEMANDS INDEMNIFICATION
- STUDENT KILLED IN ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING AT FLORIDA STATE FRATERNITY
- DORMANT CHAPTER HOUSES
Newsletter > January 2011 > "INJURED FORMER PLEDGE SUES PHI GAMMA DELTA"
INJURED FORMER PLEDGE SUES PHI GAMMA DELTA
Daniel McCarthy, Manley Burke
In or about September of 2010, the members of the Pi Deuteron chapter began making preparations for their FIJI Island party. As part of these preparations, the active members ordered the pledges to construct a pool in the back yard of the fraternity house using sandbags. The pledges spent hours doing so, despite the fact that this was an activity that defendants had specifically told the parents was wrong and would be stopped….
The FIJI Island party took place on or about September 17, 2010. During the course of this party minors were allowed to consume alcohol, and various pledge members were ordered to enter the pool that had been built on the property. During the course of the evening plaintiff was ordered by an active member to dive into the pool. He did so and as a result sustained sever injuries, including permanent spine damage and paralysis.”
These paragraphs appear in a lawsuit filed on December 29, 2010 in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri. The lawsuit, filed by Matt Frizie, seeks damages for injuries, including paralysis, the plaintiff allegedly sustained after he was ordered to dive into a makeshift pool at the Phi Gamma Delta’s Pi Deuteron Chapter at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
The named defendants in the case are the Phi Gamma Delta Chapter House Association (the local house association), The Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta (the national organization) and David R. Smith (a member of the house association). Mr. Smith was named as a defendant, according to the complaint, because in the summer of 2010, he wrote a letter to the parents of new pledges of the chapter and acknowledged that the chapter “was engaging in ‘practices that were barely acceptable in the 1980s.’” Mr. Smith allegedly promised the parents that he and the house association would do “everything in [their] power’ to supervise the chapter and would “enact sweeping changes” to protect the chapter’s pledges. After he sent the letter, Mr. Smith allegedly continued to communicate with the pledge’s parents and promised to supervise the chapter and protect the pledges.
The complaint further details the events leading up to party at which plaintiff was injured. Despite specific rules from the national fraternity prohibiting pools or ponds at FIJI Island parties, the Pi Deuteron chapter ordered their pledges to construct a pool using sandbags and a tarp. The construction of the pool allegedly took three weeks, during which time Mr. Smith, other members of the house association and at least one member of the national fraternity staff visited the chapter but did not put a stop to the construction of the pool.
The plaintiff alleges that the defendants were negligent for failing to discover the pool, failing to supervise and control the chapter, failing to supervise the FIJI Island party, failing to take reasonable actions to protect plaintiff, failing to keep fraternity premises in a safe condition, failing to use reasonable care to enforce rules governing the construction of pools, hazing and alcohol consumption, and failing to protect plaintiff against harm caused by violations of fraternity rules or harmful acts that were likely to occur.
The defendants have not yet filed their answers to the complaint. This case is yet another unfortunate reminder that all Greek organizations must continue to be diligent in enforcing their alcohol and social policies. We will keep you updated as this case progresses.