Alcohol Abuse & Hazing Lawyers
Coercion Through Forced Consumption
Of all the most common forms of hazing, alcohol abuse is the most common and most widely reported. Senior members force pledges to drink enormous amounts of alcohol on demand as "proof" of their commitment. Alcohol abuse in a fraternity setting is particularly insidious because pledges can't stop when their bodies start giving off troubling signs.
Per data gathered by experts at the University of Maine, 82% of hazing deaths involve alcohol. The social pressure to "belong" forces people to drink more than they can tolerate. For many would-be fraternity members, finishing a bottle of bourbon in one sitting alone would be unthinkable—but put against their need to become 'brothers'?
Self-preservation, tragically, doesn't win out.
Why Civil Litigation Is Vital to Preventing Hazing
Fraternity student leaders all leave within four years, but ritualized alcohol abuse continues in fraternities around the nation without interruption. Why? Because hazing isn't just a problem caused by individuals. In the end, what makes hazing difficult to stop is its entrenched place in the organizations that sanction them. Criminal prosecution stops individuals. Civil penalties stop organizations. Levying enormous verdicts against individuals and fraternity organizations (like we did on behalf of Chad Meredith's family) make hazing 'games' far too costly for organizations to allow them to continue. Additionally, you can't jail a corporate body—but you can financially punish one.
David Bianchi Writes "Andrew's Law" to Fight Hazing
In spring of 2019, David Bianchi embarked on a campaign to improve the Chad Meredith Act to help the state prosecute hazing wrongdoers. Partnered with former clients who had lost their son to hazing, David wrote amendments to the hazing statute that would help keep hazing victims safe while helping investigators combat the culture of secrecy that protect fraternity leaders from accountability. In April 2019, Mr. Bianchi's proposed law made it through multiple committees and was passed by both chambers of the Florida Legislature with unanimous support. The bill was sent to the governor, who officially signed it in June 2019.
- Andrew's Law, among other things, provides for:
- The prosecution of hazing event planners and recruiters, even if they don't attend
- Immunity under the hazing statute for the first person to call 911 or administer aid to a hazing victim
- Immunity to Good Samaritans only if they cooperate with investigators
Lawmakers named the bill "Andrew's Law" in memory of Andrew Coffey, an FSU student whose hazing death inspired the language of the bill. In November 2017, Andrew was told to drink an entire bottle of hard liquor as part of a Pi Kappa Phi tradition. He later passed out from alcohol poisoning surrounded by fraternity members. When they discovered him hours later, his 'brothers' spent 11 minutes texting each other before someone called an ambulance.
Mr. Bianchi represented the Coffey family in a civil suit against the fraternity and 12 other defendants, then wrote Andrew's Law to make sure what happened to Andrew never happens to another student ever again.
David Bianchi Appears on Prime News as Leader in Anti-Hazing Efforts
In October 2021, Prime News invited David Bianchi to appear as “one of the country’s leading hazing lawyers” to comment on the alcohol-related death of a 19-year-old student. Adam Oakes, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, was rushing for Delta Chi when fraternity members forced him to finish a bottle of liquor on his own. He died from alcohol poisoning later that night. His death bore a striking resemblance to Andrew Coffey’s. David was asked what needed to be done to stop university hazing for good, and he gave a striking and straightforward answer.
Watch the interview here:
Parents of Andrew Coffey Make Anti-Hazing Information Available to All
Tom and Sandra Coffey know all too well the effect of alcohol abuse caused by hazing. In 2020, they released a pamphlet to share the heartbreaking stories of hazing victims and the anti-hazing campaigns that grew in the wake of their deaths. Their brochure, titled "Hazed," equips students with information about the symptoms of alcohol poisoning, the signs of hazing, and other information that might have saved their son's life.
We Have Been Fighting Ritualized Alcohol Abuse Since 2001
The fraternity hazing attorneys at Stewart Tilghman Fox Bianchi & Cain, P.A. have been representing the families of hazing victims for years. We have called upon the largest universities and fraternities in the nation to clean up their acts, treating hazing abuse with the gravity it calls for. Attorney David Bianchi was even instrumental in drafting Florida's first law criminalizing hazing as a felony. He named it the Chad Meredith Act in his memory and in honor of the parents who stood up for him after death. Today, we're taking up the same fight—only now, we're lobbying for a national law.
We don't let people get away with abusing and harming our nation's children. Call (305) 770-6335 or contact us online to review your options with a hazing attorney for free.