Oakes, Estate of Adam vs. Delta Chi Fraternity, et al

Location: Richmond, VA

Adam died as a result of a Big Brother fraternity ritual that was part of the required initiation, admission, and affiliation process to become a member of Delta Chi Fraternity, Incorporated (“Delta Chi”), a process carried out through Delta Chi’s authorized chapter at VCU (the “VCU Chapter”). The VCU Chapter, Delta Chi, and the Delta Chi Education Foundation, are collectively referred to as the “Fraternity Defendants,” while the individual defendants are collectively referred to as the “Individual Defendants”. During the initiation ritual, VCU Chapter officers and members supplied and coerced Adam to consume lethal quantities of a so-called “family drink” provided by the Individuals Defendants, which rendered him visibly and dangerously intoxicated, helpless, and in need of emergency medical care. Hours passed without any of the Individual Defendants seeking any aid or assistance for Adam, until he finally died on the floor, where he had been discarded by the Individual Defendants.

Before Adam’s death, the Fraternity Defendants knew that VCU had previously imposed heavy sanctions against the VCU Chapter for engaging in hazing, alcohol misuse, and underground pledging. Following the imposition of these sanctions designed to protect underage recruits, Delta Chi employed legal counsel to pressure VCU to revoke the suspension and lift the sanctions. Delta Chi also knew or should have known that fraternity members had been accused of using alcohol as a weapon to disable and sexually assault women. Nevertheless, Delta Chi continued to pressure for the recruitment of new members at the VCU Chapter, which benefited Delta Chi.

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