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Court Denies Cornell University’s Attempt to Dismiss Fraternity Hazing Case

For nearly a year, Attorneys David Bianchi and Michael Levine from Stewart Tilghman Fox Bianchi & Cain, P.A have been fighting for the parents of Antonio Tsialas, a college freshman who tragically died after having been hazed at a Phi Kappa Psi hazing ritual at Cornell University in October 2019. Cornell has continuously shut Antonio’s parents out of the investigation, offering them no answers or closure while obscuring the university’s complicit role in his death.

Cornell University recently filed a motion to dismiss the case we filed against them, but Tompkins County Judge Gerald Keene has ruled in our favor and denied the university’s motion. This ruling is a big win for the Tsialas family and for any family who is seeking justice against negligent colleges for fraternity hazing.

Media coverage of our court victory includes:

Myriad Failures Tied to Antonio’s Death

Our firm filed suit against Cornell and Phi Kappa Psi for the fraternity hazing that led to Antonio’s death, but Cornell denies any responsibility for his death despite a long history of hazing on its campus.

The day before Antonio was subjected to alcohol abuse in a Phi Kappa Psi rush event, the fraternity was disciplined by the university for prior violations. Despite having a history of misbehavior, Phi Kappa Psi was still able to pull off a rush event 24 hours later without interruption or even the merest shred of accountability.

The suit against Cornell alleges that the university failed to:

  • Implement meaningful anti-hazing measures
  • Enforce policies against fraternity rush parties
  • Properly discipline Phi Kappa Psi officers and members
  • Properly discipline officers of other Greek organizations to set an example
  • Require Cornell PD to conduct spot checks of Greek houses for violations

…among other failures outlined in the court order.

Court Denies Cornell’s Motion to Dismiss Tsialas Hazing Case

Cornell’s motion to dismiss hinged on the argument that colleges have “no legal duty” to prevent hazing on campus. Such an argument would let colleges off the hook for any harm perpetuated by fraternity culture, from sexual abuse to alcohol abuse to physical violence committed in the name of “tradition.”

It’s an argument that ignores the relationship between colleges and fraternities especially in the case of Cornell where the university owns the house where Antonio was hazed before he died. Fortunately, the court denied Cornell’s attempt to dismiss the case.

As a result, the Tsialas family’s claim can move forward, and Antonio’s parents can get answers that Cornell has refused to provide them for the past 11 months.

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