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Court Gives Nod to Hazing Death Lawsuit Against Louisiana State University

A federal judge has declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the parents of a Louisiana State University student who died while pledging the Phi Delta Theta fraternity in 2017, according to a USA Today report.

Maxwell Gruver, 18, died due to hazing on September 14, 2017, the day after he was forced to “chug hard liquor” during a fraternity pledging ritual.

The lawsuit filed by Stephen and Rae Ann Gruver in August 2018 alleges the school and fraternity of knowingly ignoring the culture of abusing pledges and failing its responsibility of protecting the male Greek members.

“If these facts are proven, a jury may infer that LSU’s policy created the heightened risk to Greek male student of serious injury or death by hazing, thereby inflicting the injury alleged herein,” Judge Shelly Dick ruled on Friday.

The lawsuit seeking $25 million in damages further alleged both the school and the fraternity chapter of violating Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination for failing to curb the gender stereotypes about young men engaging in masculine rites of passage.

“The reality at LSU is that male students like Max face the risk of serious injury and death when they seek educational benefits and opportunities offered through LSU’s Greek letter fraternity system, and the risk to male students at LSU is likely far worse than the television portrayals,” according to the lawsuit.

In its motion to dismiss the case, the university had argued that the Title IX provision invoked by the parents, in this case, was unnecessary as they had failed to prove that Gruver either faced gender discrimination or was sexually harassed.

Last week, a court in East Baton Rouge District found fraternity member Matthew Naquin guilty of negligent homicide for his role in the death of Gruver. He is scheduled for sentencing on October 16 and faces prison time of up to five years.

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