One young man dies and another suffers a serious head injury. The local chapter of the fraternities responsible can be held liable while the national organizations themselves remain protected.
National fraternity groups excused from hazing lawsuits
June 17, 2014. By Tim Evans via indystar.com.A pair of decisions by the Indiana Supreme Court released two national fraternity organizations from liability claims involving one Wabash College student who died and another who was seriously injured in alleged hazing incidents. The lawsuits can move forward against the local chapters — but not the national organizations — of Delta Tau Delta and Phi Kappa Psi, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in two decisions handed down since February. The decisions should help bolster efforts by the national organizations to educate their campus chapters and discourage hazing, said Bryan Babb, attorney for the North-American Interfraternity Conference, an Indianapolis-based trade group representing 74 men’s fraternities. Beforehand, the fear of being held responsible for some tragedy could have chilled such efforts. Indianapolis attorney Kevin C. Schiferl, who represented one of the national fraternities involved in the lawsuits, said the decisions have implications that extend far beyond the Greek system. He explained they create a common-sense precedent covering groups such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Veteran of Foreign Wars and others with local chapters of a national organization. “This draws a clear line in the sand between where parties should look for recovery and where they should not,” he said. “It is wrongheaded when something tragic happens to cast a net so wide to bring in other entities that have little to do with what happened on a local level.”