On April 9, our client—a 20-year-old student at Florida State University—was brought to the hospital by his fraternity brothers from Alpha Epsilon Pi. Doctors noticed a golf ball-sized lump on the back of his head and quickly diagnosed that he had multiple brain bleeds. The young men who brought him told the doctors that the young man fell down the stairs while playing basketball.
They were not telling the truth.
As reported by the Washington Post, Newsweek, the Miami Herald, and other news organizations, the real story is that our client was the target of a well-known, longstanding fraternity tradition known as “Scumbag of the Week.” When our client was elected “Scumbag” against his will, another fraternity was told to hit him without any additional instruction. So, the student punched our client, knocking him out and sending him to the floor. The impact cracked his tooth and fractured his skull, which is when the fraternity members brought him to the hospital.
Permanent Loss of Brain Function
He was kept in the ICU for 5 days. The multiple brain bleeds created dead areas of his brain in a condition known as encephalomalacia, permanently damaging his right frontal lobe.
The symptoms of encephalomalacia include:
- Post-traumatic stress
- Memory problems
- Mood changes
- Panic attacks
As a result of his brain injuries, our client has been unable to return to school.
History of Misconduct
Alpha Epsilon Pi wasn’t even supposed to be operating on Florida State’s campus anymore.
In light of the hazing death of Andrew Coffey last November, the college has come down hard on fraternity and sorority activities. Alpha Epsilon Pi was found guilty of two hazing violations by campus officials and was dismissed from campus in January 2018. However, the fraternity appealed the decision to the Greek conduct board, who overturned it. In late March, FSU Pres. John Thrasher lifted his campus-wide ban on fraternity and sorority activities—only two weeks later, Alpha Epsilon Pi’s leadership subjected our client to the “Scumbag of the Week” tradition.
Hazing Attorney David Bianchi released a statement on the investigation into fraternity hazing activities.
“There seems to be no end to the hazing that occurs at fraternities despite the passage of tougher laws and the warnings from universities,” Bianchi said. “This is yet another absurd tradition that AEPi has been carrying on for too long and no one in the leadership of the local or national fraternity cared enough to end it even though they knew it was going on.”
No Criminal Charges for Hazing
While prosecutors are charging the fraternity member who struck our client with battery, they will not be pursuing criminal hazing charges. If fraternity practices are going to be held accountable in this case, it will have to be through civil law. That’s what our hazing lawyers intend to do.
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