The parents of a teenager are suing over the October, 2019, wrongful death of their son in what has been described as a hazing incident st Cornell University’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house.
While there are eight individual defendants in addition to the school and fraternity, Cornell and Phi Kappa Psi are being sued under New York’s premises liability law for their negligence.
The 18-year-old victim’s body was found two days after he disappeared after leaving a party at Phi Kappa Psi. Known as the annual “Christmas in October” party, it was a well-known “dirty rush” event. While not officially in the “rush” period, fraternity members would use the party to gauge potential pledges.
At the party, freshman attendees were ordered to drink in a series of games and then ordered to each consume a full bottle of vodka. Many became so intoxicated they were unable to later recall what happened or how they got home. Afterward, the fraternity members became aware that the victim was missing — and kept silent.
As the owner of the fraternity house, Cornell University has a legal obligation to keep guests and visitors reasonably safe — and there’s every indication that the party was an open secret that the leaders of the university should have controlled better. Indeed, Cornell’s president has insisted that there will be some reforms to Greek life on campus in the future as a result of this student’s death.
Much of the time, people think of premises liability claims as mostly “slip-and-fall” cases. Unfortunately, unsafe premises and landlord negligence will sometimes lead to grave injuries and a loss of life. If your loved one has fallen victim, find out how you can pursue a measure of justice.