Hazing and Personal Liability in Florida
Hazing is a common form of initiation for college fraternities and sororities. This practice can come about in many forms. It may require that the person break the law, engage in extreme physical activity, consume food or liquor, be deprived from sleep or be subject to brutal physical torture. These acts can cause not only physical injury but mental effects such as stress and embarrassment. Hazing is illegal in 44 states, including Florida.
What the Law Says
Hazing is defined as any act that recklessly or intentionally endangers a student’s physical or mental. It may be required as part of the initiation or admission process of any organization operating under a college or university. It may also be done as part of affiliation with a college organization. Participation in customary athletic events or similar competitions are not considered hazing.
Under Florida Statutes Section 1006.63, when a person suffers serious injury or death due to hazing, the person who commits the hazing can be charged with a third-degree felony. Any other type of hazing is a first-degree misdemeanor. Consent of the victim is not a defense.
Florida State University Hazing Death Case
A Florida State University fraternity president and two fraternity members could face felony hazing charges for their role in the 2017 death of a student who drank a large bottle of bourbon at an off-campus party. While the trio tried to appeal the charges, the Supreme Court rejected the request.
Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity Chapter President Anthony Petagine and fraternity members Anthony Oppenheimer and Luke Kluttz were charged in the death of 20-year-old Andrew Coffey. While Petagine did not attend the party that resulted in Coffey’s death, he had attended a meeting prior to the party. The meeting discussed the danger of pledges becoming intoxicated. Despite this, he allowed liquor at the party.
It was determined that Petagine committed felony hazing even though he was not present at the party. He encouraged alcohol use at the party and therefore endangered the health or safety of Coffey, which led to his death.
The attorneys for the three men deny the fact that felony hazing was involved in the man’s death. They allege that there was no pressure or coercion involved at the party. While drinking did occur, all the allegedly happened at the party was “encouragement to drink alcohol at a celebratory occasion.” If this is considered a felony, then it ultimately means that any fraternity member could be charged with hazing if an underage student drinks alcohol at a fraternity event.
Get Legal Help for Your Florida Personal Injury Case
Hazing is a common practice in colleges, but it often leads to physical and emotional harm. It is taken seriously under Florida law and can result in felony charges.
If you or your college student has been harmed in a hazing incident, get help from the Tampa personal injury attorneys at Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group. We can help you file a claim for compensation. Schedule a free consultation by filling out the online form or calling 813-242-4404.