Family of Bowling Green State University sophomore who died after alleged hazing incident sues fraternity
The parents of an Ohio college sophomore who died from alcohol poisoning following an alleged fraternity hazing ritual in March has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the fraternity and several of its members.
Stone Foltz, 20, died March 7 after a Pi Kappa Alpha event on March 4 at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, about 20 miles south of Toledo.
The suit was filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday, and the family is seeking a trial by jury.
It names the national chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha, the BGSU Delta Chapter of the fraternity, 10 individuals including organizers of the alleged hazing ritual, and John Does 1 to 10, which represents individuals who are not yet known but may be culpable in the case.
The suit alleges Foltz was “subjected to extensive hazing” where he and other pledges were blindfolded, brought into a basement and forced to drink an entire bottle of alcohol “in as little as 18 minutes” during a fraternity “Big/Little ritual.”
When Foltz was admitted to the hospital, his blood alcohol content level was 0.35 — over four times the legal limit, according to the complaint.
The civil complaint accuses the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity of having a long, sordid history of hazing incidents that have resulted in multiple deaths since the 1960s, citing complaints filed in 2018 and 2019.
The suit seeks a ruling on multiple counts, including violation of Ohio’s anti-hazing statue, negligence, negligent supervision, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy. Lawyers for the family are seeking compensatory damages of $25,000 for each of the 11 counts and additional punitive damages.
“This fraternity has established a system that is toxic and dangerous to unsuspecting undergrads being persuaded to pledge,” the lawsuit claims.
Most of the individuals named in the suit also face charges on Foltz’s death.
“We are doing what is necessary to hold the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity, the local fraternity chapter, and individuals accountable for their behavior that led to Stone Foltz’s death,” attorneys Rex Elliott and Sean Alto, who represent the family, told ABC News.
“The complaint details a disturbing history of hazing within the international fraternity dating back almost 60 years, culminating in the tragic wrongful death of Stone Foltz. While nothing can bring Stone back to his family, we are confident the family will get justice and accountability through the legal system,” they added.
Last month eight men, ranging in age between 19 to 23, were indicted on charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to hazing.
The eight men are: Jacob Krinn, 20, of Delaware, Ohio; Daylen Dunson, 20, of Cleveland, Ohio; Troy Henricksen, 23, of Grove City, Ohio; Canyon Caldwell, 21 of Dublin, Ohio; Niall Sweeney, 21, of Erie, Pennsylvania; Jarrett Prizel, 19, of Olean, New York; Benjamin Boyers, 21, of Sylvania, Ohio; and Aaron Lehane, 21, of Loveland, Ohio.
The charges against Boyers, who faced just two misdemeanor charges, were dismissed “for the time being” while prosecutors focus on the felonies, Dobson said last month.
All of them are BGSU students, except for Lehane, who was not “currently enrolled at BGSU,” Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson said in a press conference last month.
Eric Long, an attorney for Henrickson, told ABC News, “Whether this is involving the criminal process or the civil process, we recognize the tragedy associated with the loss of life, and the grief that everyone involved is going through. However, that does not mean that people like Troy, are responsible. We believe that the facts will bear that out in whichever system is being utilized.”
Attorneys for the other men did not immediately reply to ABC News’ request for comment.
The lawsuit states that Foltz was dropped off at his apartment by several fraternity members including his “big brother” in the fraternity, Krinn, who was supposed to spend the night with Foltz to assure he was OK.
“Instead, Stone Foltz was taken from the car into his apartment and left alone on the couch to die,” the suit stated.
He was found unresponsive by his roommate and police were called. He died at a hospital three days later.
Following Foltz’s death, the university permanently banned the fraternity. ABC News has reached out to the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity for comment.
In an April statement, the fraternity said it supported an investigation into Foltz’s death, adding, “The actions of any individuals found responsible are unacceptable and do not align with Pi Kappa Alpha’s values.”
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