- Michigan Fraternities Sever Ties With University
- Update on USC Deferred Recruitment Case
- House Democrats Propose New Legislation
- No More Women's Groups at Harvard
- Interesting Settlement from Utah State
- Indiana District Court Denies MSJ in Sexual Assault Case
- Guilty Pleas at Penn State
- Two High Courts Address "special duty" to Students
- Lawsuit Filed by Gruver Family
Newsletter > September 2018 > "Lawsuit Filed by Gruver Family"
Lawsuit Filed by Gruver Family
Max Gruver died on property leased from LSU in the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house when some members of the Chapter violated the rules of the fraternity, the regulations of the University, and the laws of the State of Louisiana.
It is not surprising that in addition to naming the wrongdoing chapter members, the recently filed wrongful death lawsuit brought by Max’s parents on behalf of his estate also names the University, National Fraternity, Chapter and House Corporation. Those parties are typically named in such litigation, though often some of those named defendants are not found legally liable. What makes Gruver, et al. v. State of Louisiana, et al.1 unique is that in addition to the negligence, wrongful death and premises liability claims brought under Louisiana law, a separate count is being brought against the Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University (LSU). In Count I of the litigation, the plaintiff alleges that LSU violated Title IX, 20 U.S.C. §1681. Title IX prohibits discrimination in educational opportunity based upon sex. Specifically, Title IX states:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal Financial Assistance….”
In the Complaint, the plaintiff alleges that while LSU had knowledge of a long history of hazing and alcohol abuse, it did not adequately respond. The plaintiff claims that “as a matter of policy and practice, [LSU] remained deliberately indifferent to the severe and pervasive risks of serious injury and death faced by male students and treated hazing of males significantly less seriously than hazing of females….” LSU is accused of failing to take stern action against male hazing “because of long-held and outdated gender stereotypes about young men,” and that LSU had “a policy and practice of treating the hazing of male students significantly less seriously than the hazing of female students, minimizing the hazing of males as ‘boys being boys’ engaged in masculine rites of passage.”
While Title IX claims are typically, and appropriately, made by women who are survivors of sexual assaults, and occasionally now are made by males accused of sexual assault who argue that the university is prejudiced in favor of women bringing such complaints, this appears to be the first use of Title IX claiming sex discrimination in how a university enforces its rules against hazing and alcohol abuse. Whether or not such a claim can survive a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment by the university remains to be seen. Given the very recent filing of the Complaint, the Title IX issue, as well as all of the other issues involved in the complaint, have yet to be responded to by the defendants.