Parents sue 28 Penn State frat members over son’s death

Parents sue 28 Penn State frat members over son’s death
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The parents of a Pennsylvania State University student who died while rushing a fraternity in 2017 are suing 28 members of the organization, NBC News reported Friday. 

Jim and Evelyn Piazza are suing the Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers over the death, saying they organized the party where Timothy Piazza died after falling down the stairs.

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The lawsuit claims the fraternity brothers caused Timothy Piazza “to consume life-threatening amounts of alcohol, and caused him to become intoxicated, fall, and suffer grievous injuries and death. For more than 11 hours after his fall, Timothy Piazza endured horrible pain and suffering, which was documented by closed-circuit cameras.”

The suit goes on to accuse several members of providing Timothy Piazza with large quantities of vodka, beer and wine as part of the fraternity’s initiation process and failing to call for medical assistance for 11 hours after he fell down the stairs and started to vomit. 

The lawsuit shows text messages between the brothers showing the men considered erasing evidence of the party.

“Erasing the cameras could be the look as long as no one found out,” one message in the suit read.

Several of the members, including many named in the lawsuit, also face criminal charges. Some have pleaded guilty to alcohol- or hazing-related charges, while others are in a program for first-time, nonviolent offenders. 

Ryan Burke, the chapter's former recruitment chair, is one of the defendants in the lawsuit. He’s also pleaded guilty to criminal charges.

“I am very sorry for the Piazzas’ loss. I am here to today to accept responsibility for my actions. I hope one day to be able to be forgiven,” he said at his July sentencing hearing, where he was sentenced to three months of house arrest. 

The Piazza family also settled a lawsuit for an undisclosed amount with the national Beta Theta Pi organization in September.

The death inspired the Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing Law, which Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed in October. It implemented tighter criminal levies on hazing and allowed courts to order frat houses where hazing occurs to be confiscated.