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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ind. Decisions - "COA OKs parents' suit against fraternity in Wabash College alcohol death"

The May 8th Court of Appeals opinion in Smith v. Delta Tau Delta, Beta Psi Chapter of Delta Tau Delta, Wabash Col., et al was the subject of a story last week by Sophia Voravong in the Lafayette Journal Courier. Some quotes:

The national Delta Tau Delta fraternity will remain a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a Wabash College student who died of alcohol poisoning after a party in 2008.

In a ruling issued Wednesday, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a prior order by special Judge Don Daniel of Tippecanoe Circuit Court that granted summary judgment in favor of the Fishers-headquartered fraternity.

Delta Tau Delta, in its request for summary judgment, claimed that the Wabash chapter was not acting as an agent of the national fraternity. But the appellate court disagreed on grounds that Delta Tau Delta maintains a constitution, bylaws and member responsibility guidelines and requires local chapters to comply with its rules.

The lawsuit was filed in 2010 in Montgomery Superior Court 1 by the parents of 18-year-old Johnny D. Smith, a freshman pledge from Tucson, Ariz. He was found dead at the Delta Tau Delta house at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, facedown in a pool of vomit, in October 2008.

An autopsy showed that he had a blood-alcohol content of nearly 0.40 percent, five times what Indiana considers legally intoxicated for drivers. * * *

The lawsuit claims that Wabash College and the national Delta Tau Delta fraternity share blame for Smith’s death and ignored illegal alcohol consumption by minors and hazing activities at school-owned fraternity houses.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 12, 2013 11:38 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions