Braham, Estate of Marquise vs. Pennsylvania State University

Location: Dauphin County, PA

The parents of Marquise Braham, a Penn State Altoona student and Phi Sigma Kappa member who committed suicide on March 14, 2014, have filed a lawsuit alleging various claims against the University, the local, and national fraternity, and several individuals.

The complaint, filed in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, claims that the Iota Septaton Corporation of Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity forced Braham to participate in hazing rituals that led to Braham’s “psychological crisis” and suicide. The alleged hazing included: a “locked in ceremony” where Braham and other pledges were ordered to drink beer over two days until they filled two trash cans with vomit; choosing between snorting a line of cocaine or being sodomized; killing, gutting, and skinning a squirrel; and having a gun pointed at his head.

Following his initiation into the chapter, Braham was elected to its executive board as secretary, which required him to be present for the hazing of new pledges. Braham allegedly “struggled deeply” with participating in hazing, and showed signs of his distress to family members and Penn State staff before his suicide. The complaint also alleges that Penn State violated consumer protection laws by referring to “the actual and dangerous risks facing students pledging fraternities” as “myths” on its website and in documentary materials.

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