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Risk Management - Hazing & etc. This forum covers Risk Management topics such as: Hazing, Alcohol Abuse/Awareness, Date Rape Awareness, Eating Disorder Prevention, Liability, etc.


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  #1  
Old 07-29-2005, 03:27 PM
exlurker exlurker is offline
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Lawsuit Against Sigma Nu, U. of Southern Mississippi, and Others

A wrongful death suit has been filed against Sigma Nu, the U. of Southern Mississippi (which is NOT “Ole Miss” -- different school), and others. An interesting story because it doesn't involve underage consumption or new member hazing. Apparently it involves an alumni event.

Excerpts from the article in the July 29 ’05 Hattiesburg paper:

The mother of a University of Southern Mississippi alumnus has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university, Sigma Nu Fraternity and others in connection with his alcohol-related death last year.
The suit says that Sammy Broadhead, 25, a 2002 graduate of Southern Miss, died on campus on June 25, 2004 - the same date he attended an alumni reunion at the Sigma Nu Fraternity house.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified actual and punitive damages. It says Broadhead died of "acute alcohol consumption" by participating in a drinking game.
. . . Southern Miss attorney Lee Gore said the university does not comment on pending litigation. Brad Beecham of Lexington, Va., executive director of Sigma Nu Fraternity Inc., could not be reached for comment.
. . . According to the lawsuit, the fraternity-sponsored event where Broadhead died was a pre-rush meeting and party at the Sigma Nu house on the Southern Miss campus.
The lawsuit said that the event included "beer pong" and other drinking games, even though alcohol is banned on campus, should be illegal on campus. Because the party was in the summer, it said, Sigma Nu members obtained permission and a key to the house from Southern Miss Vice Dean John Burke.
The lawsuit also named Mike Foster, identified as a graduate advisor and alumni coordinator of the local Sigma Nu fraternity chapter, as a defendant. The suit said Foster organized the alumni event, called the "Sigma NEW Reunion."
. . . Foster referred comments to the fraternity's national chapter in Virginia. . . .


Entire article:

http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/a...507290303/1002


Another article in the same issue of the paper touches on the issue of drinking on campus. Excerpts:

. . . "We have a lot of programs in place to help students avoid substance abuse," said Joe Paul, University of Southern Mississippi vice president for student affairs.
"Whether it's freshmen or members of fraternities and sororities, we try to be proactive and let them know the negative influences substance abuse has . . . .”
. . . Southern Miss prohibits the unlawful possession, consumption and distribution of alcoholic beverages by students and employees on campus. Students and employees who violate the policy could be subject to disciplinary action.
. . , students say it is common to go to parties where alcohol consumption is the norm.
"There are a lot of parties on campus, mainly in the fall," fifth-year senior Seth Davis said. "It has died down a lot since I started. I don't know if that's because I'm getting older or because they're cracking down more."
But Davis said he has played his fair share of drinking games, like the game "beer pong" - in which the losing player chugs 10 half-full cups of beer.
"We've played them all and we've even started some of our own," he said. "We don't play to the point we get so wasted we can't stand, and if someone gets too wasted, you try to step in and help out."
Sophomore Chris Stafford agreed, noting that he tries to avoid the drinking games. . . .
As a soon-to-be pledge of a fraternity, Stafford said he realizes some drinking initiations may be involved with the pledge process, but says that is part of the allure.
"I do think everyone should have to go through something," he said. "I don't think I would like to do all the heavy drinking, but it all depends."
. . . Those who are not students or university personnel cannot be cited for having alcohol on campus although the police can seize the alcohol or ask offenders to leave campus.


Enitre article:

http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/a...507290302/1002
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  #2  
Old 07-29-2005, 03:41 PM
WCUgirl WCUgirl is offline
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Oh my.

This man was 25 years old. It's a good reminder that those of us who are of legal drinking age are still susceptible to alcohol poisoning and alcohol-related death.

But still, his mother's lawsuit makes me angry. Would she be suing his friends if it had happened while he was out w/ them on a Friday night after work? Would she have sued the bar that served him the alcohol?

I guess she feels the need to blame someone, and trying to find the university and Sigma Nu as negligent is her recourse.

Quote from the Mom: "Local and national fraternities, however, must come to grips with their responsibilities regarding binge drinking and systemic abuse of alcohol on college campuses. This is a growing problem that is affecting young men and women nationwide."

This is a grown man who, at the time of his death, had been away from college for two years. I think this is a bit ridiculous.

Last edited by WCUgirl; 07-29-2005 at 03:44 PM.
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  #3  
Old 07-29-2005, 03:58 PM
AXiDTrish AXiDTrish is offline
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Soapbox!!!

Is there zero responsibility put on a adult man about his own drinking habits? The guy was 25!! It's not as though he was a 18 year old naive freshman trying to fit in (not that that is an excuse either). I think instead of blaming anyone she can get her hands on, she needs to have a heart-to-heart with herself about her son being old enough to make his own decisions..... unfortunately even if it results in his own death!

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  #4  
Old 07-29-2005, 04:00 PM
tunatartare tunatartare is offline
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Re: Soapbox!!!

Quote:
Originally posted by AXiDTrish
Is there zero responsibility put on a adult man about his own drinking habits? The guy was 25!! It's not as though he was a 18 year old naive freshman trying to fit in (not that that is an excuse either). I think instead of blaming anyone she can get her hands on, she needs to have a heart-to-heart with herself about her son being old enough to make his own decisions..... unfortunately even if it results in his own death!

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Old 07-29-2005, 04:07 PM
exlurker exlurker is offline
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AXiDTrish, KLPDaisy and AXiD670, my reaction was a lot like yours. Still, I think it's worth knowing about a development like this and seeing what the outcome will be. I'll bet that other universities, other GLOs, insurance companies, and lawyers will be keeping an eye on this story.
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  #6  
Old 07-29-2005, 04:11 PM
OleMissGlitter OleMissGlitter is offline
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Re: Soapbox!!!

Quote:
Originally posted by AXiDTrish
Is there zero responsibility put on a adult man about his own drinking habits? The guy was 25!! It's not as though he was a 18 year old naive freshman trying to fit in (not that that is an excuse either). I think instead of blaming anyone she can get her hands on, she needs to have a heart-to-heart with herself about her son being old enough to make his own decisions..... unfortunately even if it results in his own death!

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  #7  
Old 07-29-2005, 04:23 PM
WCUgirl WCUgirl is offline
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AXiDTrish,

That's totally where I was headed w/ my post. But then I realized, she's probably suing Sigma Nu b/c they've got the deep pockets. It's about negligence -- was Sigma Nu, the university, et. al. responsible for his death as the host of the event, and if so, what percentage?

I think we tend to think of these lawsuits from the perspective of the chapter being responsible for under-age drinking or hazing or whatever, mostly b/c that's the only kind of lawsuits we see. It is very interesting that she's trying to sue from a different angle.

That's why I wonder if the mom would still be suing if he died after a night out at the bar or a night out w/ his friends.

This quote sums it up the best, I think:

Phillips said Broadhead's mother filed the lawsuit after Broadhead's younger brother questioned her about his brother's death.

"If I do nothing," Phillips quoted Covert as saying, "it's like me saying to my younger son, 'This is OK.' But what happened to Sammy is not OK. What young people face today on college campuses is not OK. If I don't do something to help change this, who will?"


Funny, I didn't know that alumni suddenly became college students again once they set foot on campus.

This man was obviously an active alumni -- I wonder how he would feel if he knew his mom had initiated this lawsuit?
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  #8  
Old 07-29-2005, 04:43 PM
AXiDTrish AXiDTrish is offline
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I can't believe I'm actually going to say this....BUT (deep breath)

If it were me and my parents filed a lawsuit after I, a 28 year old active alumna, drank myself to death....I would be angry that they would lash out against my organization when I would be the person who should have been responsible for myself.

Like I said....this is my opinion about me!
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  #9  
Old 07-29-2005, 04:55 PM
WCUgirl WCUgirl is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by AXiDTrish
I can't believe I'm actually going to say this....BUT (deep breath)

If it were me and my parents filed a lawsuit after I, a 28 year old active alumna, drank myself to death....I would be angry that they would lash out against my organization when I would be the person who should have been responsible for myself.

Like I said....this is my opinion about me!
Exactly my point -- I would be super-pissed if my mom tried to sue AXiD after I had died for something that was my fault. I'd have to come back from the grave and haunt her.
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  #10  
Old 07-29-2005, 05:44 PM
Tom Earp Tom Earp is offline
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Question

What is the Old Saying? Shit Happens

Under aging is not the panacea is it?

Suing is the Norm of the Day for Stupidity.

It is always a shame for Stupidity, but it happens.
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  #11  
Old 07-29-2005, 06:01 PM
utealum utealum is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by AXiD670
[Would she have sued the bar that served him the alcohol?
[/B]
Probably, yes. Regardless of whether or not someone is of legal drinking age, you're liable if you serve someone who is obviously intoxicated, or if you serve someone and allow them to drive away drunk. And that applies whether you are a bar (which would also stand to lose its alcohol license) or serving your friends at a private home.
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  #12  
Old 07-30-2005, 12:52 AM
mmcat mmcat is offline
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how sad....
for all parties comcerned
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  #13  
Old 08-01-2005, 12:03 AM
DeltAlum DeltAlum is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by utealum
Probably, yes. Regardless of whether or not someone is of legal drinking age, you're liable if you serve someone who is obviously intoxicated, or if you serve someone and allow them to drive away drunk. And that applies whether you are a bar (which would also stand to lose its alcohol license) or serving your friends at a private home.
It's happened before.
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  #14  
Old 08-01-2005, 12:20 AM
Kevin Kevin is offline
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Our national policy does forbid the playing of 'drinking games' such as beer pong. It'll be interesting to see where this goes. I could see a jury going either way on this depending on the facts.

I'm very sad to see a brother die like this. Such a waste.
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  #15  
Old 08-01-2005, 07:46 PM
SmartBlondeGPhB SmartBlondeGPhB is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by utealum
Probably, yes. Regardless of whether or not someone is of legal drinking age, you're liable if you serve someone who is obviously intoxicated, or if you serve someone and allow them to drive away drunk. And that applies whether you are a bar (which would also stand to lose its alcohol license) or serving your friends at a private home.
Yep...........
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