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Florida Supreme Court Rejects Defendants’ Appeals in Coffey Hazing Case; Trial to Proceed

This week, the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from three fraternity officers who were charged in the hazing death of FSU student Andrew Coffey in 2017. Of the nine fraternity members who were charged, six have already served their jail time. Three of the fraternity officers, however, have been fighting the criminal charges for years and took their challenge to the charges all the way to the Florida Supreme Court. Yesterday the high court refused to intervene and, as a result, the criminal prosecution against them will proceed. All three are being prosecuted under the Chad Meredith Act, which Attorney David Bianchi from our office drafted nearly two decades ago in the wake of the death of University of Miami student Chad Meredith. David represented the parents of Chad Meredith in their civil suit against Kappa Sigma members who caused Chad’s death.  That case resulted in the largest jury verdict in a hazing case in the country. 

“This is a gratifying result for several reasons” Bianchi said. “It validates the Chad Meredith Act as an anti-hazing criminal statute that means what is says and is legally enforceable, and it means that the perpetrators of the hazing that Andrew Coffey was subjected to will finally be brought to justice.”

Civil Law, Civil Justice

David Bianchi and Michael Levine from our firm represented Andrew Coffey’s parents in their civil suit against Phi Kappa Psi and 10 fraternity members for their role in causing Andrew’s death. That case was resolved in 2018. Both attorneys were also instrumental in drafting and lobbying for Andrew’s Law, a new law that strengthened the existing anti-hazing statute in Florida.  Andrew’s Law was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor DeSantis in 2019.  

While Andrew’s family has gotten justice in civil court, the criminal prosecution against these three Phi Kappa Psi members has been unresolved for years, but that will now change.  These defendants will soon stand trial for what they did and, like the other defendants who have already pled guilty, they may each have to serve jail time.  . 

Visit these links to learn more about Andrew’s caseAndrew’s Law, and the Chad Meredith Act.

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