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February 01, 2019

Parents of PSU student who died during hazing sue former fraternity brothers

The lawsuit comes nearly two years after Timothy Piazza's death

Lawsuits Hazing
Timothy Piazza Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times/TNS/Sipa USA/for PhillyVoice

A large photo of Timothy Piazza next to his father Jim Piazza as he speaks about the importance of passing the anti-hazing legislation named after his son outside of the Centre County Courthouse on Friday, March 23, 2018 in Bellefonte, Pa.

The parents of Timothy Piazza, the Penn State student whose death during a hazing event reverberated nationally, filed a lawsuit Thursday suing 28 former fraternity brothers and a security firm.

Piazza, who was a 19-year-old sophomore at the time of his death, died after being served 18 drinks in 82 minutes during a fraternity house party. He fell down a set of stairs and was left there for nearly 12 hours, and later died of traumatic injuries from the fall.

His parents, Jim and Evelyn Piazza, are listed as the plaintiffs in the suit. The 28 former fraternity brothers — including members of the executive board, members of the pledge education committee, and members of the recruitment committee, according to PennLive — are listed as defendants for their roles in the hazing.

St. Moritz, a security firm used by Penn State to monitor fraternity events, is also listed as a defendant because, as the lawsuit claims, its “sham inspection enabled the Fraternity Defendants to continue hazing Timothy Piazza and others.”

The full, 102-page lawsuit is available here.

The counts against the defendants include five counts of negligence, one count of civil conspiracy, six counts of battery, one count of intentional infliction of emotional distress, and one count of negligence of social checkers.

“We expect this federal lawsuit to result in a trial to determine the shared responsibility of all this who contributed to this needless and senseless tragedy,” Thomas Kline, attorney for the Piazzas, told PennLive.

Less than two weeks ago, Penn State announced the creation of a research center to study Greek life on campus and named the center after Piazza.


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