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Florida hazing death sparks suit

A national fraternity and Bethune-Cookman University are under fire from a Florida wrongful death suit filed on behalf of a student who died there in 2012. The young man was killed in a car accident. His mother is seeking financial compensation from both entities, arguing the school and fraternity failed to adequately protect her son.

The suit alleges the 19-year-old man and other members of his pledge class were constantly sleep-deprived during a three-week period. The young man stayed awake with three of his pledge brothers on Feb. 9, 2012, to study for a fraternity test. As the pledges drove back from the test, which was administered at 4:30 a.m., one of them fell asleep at the wheel. The young man died just hours after the accident in Daytona Beach.

Suit documents show that the fraternity member who hosted the test at his apartment is also implicated in the negligent actions.

Attorneys for the fraternity say they oppose the charges, arguing that hazing never occurred in this situation. The pledge's accident was simply related to being tired and was not attributable to any fraternity activity, according to lawyers. The college has issued similar statements, saying the decedent was at fault for his own death. In addition, Daytona Beach police say they have not investigated any hazing incidents in connection with the Phi Mu Alpha fraternity.

In this case, the university probably should have known if some kind of hazing was going on. If the young man's death is indeed attributable to university actions, his family could receive significant compensation for a variety of claims. In addition to wrongful death, the student's mother could receive funds for loss of consort, pain and suffering, and emotional distress, among other claims.

If you or a loved one has been injured in such an accident, consider seeking the assistance of a qualified personal injury attorney. These professionals can protect your rights and help you get the money you need and deserve.

Source: articles.orlandosentinel.com, "Death of Bethune-Cookman student sparks hazing lawsuit" Denise-Marie Ordway, May. 30, 2013

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