STFBC Files Lawsuit Against Pi Kappa Phi for Death of Student

Attorneys David W. Bianchi and Michael Levine of Stewart Tilghman Fox Bianchi & Cain, P.A. in Miami have filed a lawsuit against the national offices of Pi Kappa Phi and many others on behalf of the parents of Andrew Coffey, a fraternity pledge at Florida State University who died from alcohol poisoning in November of last year.

Andrew was attending what was known as “Big Brother night” when he consumed an entire bottle of 101 proof bourbon provided to him as a part of a long-standing fraternity tradition and died.

It is our law firm’s belief that Andrew was the victim of dangerous behavior and a pervasive culture that led to him being coerced into a night of extremely heavy drinking. It is the responsibility of the FSU Pi Kappa Phi chapter to protect the young men who enter into their brotherhood, and they failed to do so. Worse, they actively supported an environment that endangered the lives of their fraternity pledges.

“The universities can only do so much, but when the national fraternities know these dangerous, illegal traditions are taking place and they turn a blind eye, they’re as guilty as anybody else because they are expecting the tradition to continue. I’m going to attack this problem from the top down and the bottom up.”
- Attorney David W. Bianchi

What Happened to Andrew Coffey

Andrew Coffey, a 20-year-old Pompano Beach native, attended the Pi Kappa Phi event on the evening of November 2, 2017 where he consumed the “family bottle” of bourbon given to him by his “Big Brother” as part of a long-standing fraternity tradition. He was subsequently found unresponsive the following morning. During his autopsy, his blood alcohol level was reported to be 0.447—6 times the legal limit.

Who Is Responsible?

In the lawsuit, we place the blame for Andrew’s death on the national offices of Pi Kappa Phi, who is liable for the actions of members, and numerous others. Our lawsuit also names nine fraternity members, who are facing criminal charges for felony hazing; D. Craig Filar, the Pi Kappa Phi adviser; and Richard Guile and Thomas Rohrlack, who rented the house where Andrew died. Each of these defendants is uniquely responsible for the events that led to the death of Andrew Coffey and should be held accountable for the actions and decisions that led to such a tragedy.

Pursuing Justice for the Victims of Extreme Hazing

At Stewart Tilghman Fox Bianchi & Cain, P.A. we have long been committed to protecting the rights of college hazing victims; in fact, our legal team handled the Chad Meredith case, a high profile fraternity hazing death from the University of Miami that ultimately led to changes in Florida’s hazing law. We passionately believe that universities, fraternities, and students need to do better. They have to do better. Our Florida attorneys will not stand by and let such dangerous traditions continue to endanger the well-being, safety, and livelihood of students throughout the nation.

Our legal team is committed to holding responsible parties accountable for their part in this tragedy. We will fight tirelessly to demand justice—not only for the Coffey family but for all families whose lives have been touched by extreme hazing.

To learn more about this case, click here to read a Tallahassee Democrat article.