The parents of a Penn State University sophomore who died while pledging the Beta Theta Pi fraternity in 2017 have sued 28 former fraternity members.
The suit, filed three days before the second anniversary of Timothy J. Piazza’s death, alleges that the members were guilty of negligence, conspiracy and wrongful death due to hazing.
Jim and Evelyn Piazza have also reached an agreement with the university without filing a lawsuit that it will ensure a “healthier and safer environment” for present and future students who choose to become involved in Greek life.
“The complaint, which also follows last December’s landmark settlement with the national fraternity of Beta Theta Pi, is necessary to avert future tragedies,” Thomas R. Kline, the attorney for Mr. Piazza’s parents, said.
“With the assistance of recovered fraternity house interior surveillance video, and text messages amongst the defendants, we intend to hold all those responsible for Tim’s death fully accountable. Only through the civil justice process can these objectives be accomplished.”
The suit accuses the fraternity members of not seeking medical care for Piazza who endured horrible pain and suffering for 11 hours after his fall on February 2, 2017.
“Despite knowing that some fraternity members wanted Piazza to receive professional medical care, the Fraternity Defendants did not seek medical care for him until it was too late. Upon realizing the grave consequences of their conduct, the Fraternity Defendants unsuccessfully sought to conceal evidence of their hazing,” the complaint reads.
Earlier this week, Penn State pledged $2 million toward the establishment of the Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform to conduct research on transforming the Greek life experience of students on college campuses.
The university will create an endowment of at least $8 million by raising $3 million in private support and matching the same amount with university funds. The new center will provide scholarships to study the challenges faced in the Greek-letter community related to hazing, the misuse of alcohol, and sexual assault, among others.