$25 million lawsuit filed against LSU in last year's frat hazing death
BATON ROUGE – The family of the LSU fraternity pledge who died in a hazing incident last year has sued the university for $25,000,000.
The suit, in federal court, was filed Thursday.
The 65-page lawsuit also reveals new details about the hazing incident that killed Max Gruver. The 18-year-old was one of several pledges subjected to "bible study" at Phi Delta Theta back in September. The freshman allegedly consumed dangerous amounts of alcohol over the course of the ritual and was singled out by other fraternity members, being forced to drink roughly three times as much as other pledges.
Gruver was allegedly left alone overnight. When pledges found him unconscious in the frat house the following day, the lawsuit claims they were ordered to take him to the hospital and lie about the events leading up to that morning.
Attorneys argue Phi Delta Theta did not do enough to deter hazing and had an incident the year before Gruver’s 2017 death.
LSU, attorneys said, repeatedly looked the other way when it came to complaints about hazing involving fraternities.
“We refuse to accept that the events that caused Max’s death can be explained away as ‘boys being boys,’” Gruver’s parents, Stephen and Rae Ann said, in a statement.
The university responded to the lawsuit Thursday evening with the following statement:
"The loss of Maxwell Gruver was a tragedy for the Gruver family and the entire LSU community. Since Max’s untimely death, LSU has worked to develop and implement new policies and practices to better protect all of our students. We are now implementing those changes and are working to educate each and every one of our Greek leaders, Greek students and others involved in student organizations. LSU supported the Gruver’s efforts to criminalize hazing and ensure that there were harsher penalties for hazing in Louisiana. Our Greek Life Task Force and Implementation Committee have put new measures in place for the start of the fall semester.
To further address the issue nationwide, LSU has joined with leaders from Penn State University and Florida State University to recommend new standards. The time has come for the national fraternities to support the universities and engage their membership to discourage dangerous behavior going forward."
Phi Delta Theta released a statement after the lawsuit was filed: "Almost a year after the heartbreaking loss of Max Gruver, Phi Delta Theta continues to keep the entire Gruver family and the LSU Community in our thoughts and prayers. This is a very tragic situation that should have never happened."
"We strongly advocate that those found to be involved and in violation of our risk management policies will be held accountable for their individual actions and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," the fraternity said in a post on its website.
Several former fraternity members involved in the incident are scheduled to stand trial before the end of the year.