Family Sues UDel Fraternity Over Son's Death

Brett Griffin drank so much alcohol it killed him.

His parents blame fraternity hazing and they're suing the frat and some of Brett's fraternity brothers at the University of Delaware. The suit claims the 18-year old pledge was under pressure to fit in and drank so much at a Big Brother Night party last November, he couldn't walk, couldn't talk and eventually passed out. The suit alleges that his fraternity brothers, who took turns watching over him, knew how bad off he was but let hours pass. No one called for any medical help until Brett's lips turned blue, according to the lawsuit. By the time medics got to him, Brett was unconscious. He died of acute alcohol poisoning.

Brett's parents are suing the national fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu, its local chapter and five students, including fraternity officers, the "pledge master" and the student who was assigned as Brett's "big brother" that night.

He "did not die by simply over-consuming alcohol…Brett died as a result of longstanding, dangerous fraternity rituals and the family intends to hold those responsible for his death accountable," attorney Douglas E. Feirberg told Delaware Online.

Big Brother Night is one of the "three deadliest nights" for fraternities according to the lawsuit. A pledge is expected to drink an entire bottle of alcohol on nights like that, according to the family's lawsuit. Brett was drinking Southern Comfort.

"I have not seen anything to suggest liability on the part of my client, the national Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity," attorney Michael P. Kelly said. He says the organization has "strict policies and procedures governing conduct."

Feirberg calls those policies and procedures "flawed and dangerous" because fraternities rely on "untrained, unprepared, unsuspecting kids" to carry them out.

Brett Griffin was from Kendall Park, N.J. The suit does not name the University of Delaware.

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