COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The parents of a student who died due to a hazing ritual at Bowling Green State University has filed a lawsuit seeking at least $50,000 from the school.
The lawsuit alleges the university promoted Greek organizations on campus, encouraging prospective students to join a fraternity or sorority and assuring parents and families their children would not be hazed.
“BGSU encourages its students to join Greek life despite its long-held knowledge that its Greek organizations haze,” the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit seeks at least $25,000 for two counts alleged in the lawsuit — a violation of Ohio’s anti-hazing statute and negligence resulting in wrongful death. The amount represents the minimum required for in a complaint, with the family likely to see “substantially more” during the trial.
On March 4, 2021, Foltz was a pledge of the Delta Beta Chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity when he drank a one-liter bottle of Evan Williams 86-proof bourbon. He was then taken to his apartment where he was left unconscious. He died three days later after being placed on life support.
“For years, BGSU allowed the Delta Beta Chapter to persist on its campus despite the Chapter’s known history of hazing and vile acts,” the lawsuit alleges. The complaint offers a detailed list of hazing and misconduct incidents at PIKE chapters across the country starting back in 1965 with a fatal drowning at Georgetown College.
In a statement, the Foltz family said it was filing the lawsuit as an attempt to stop hazing on college campuses for good.
“By filing a complaint against Bowling Green State University, we are doing what is necessary to hold people in power accountable for their woeful inactions to keep students safe and reckless disregard for illegal activity,” the family’s statement reads in part.
A statement from Cooper Elliott, the law firm representing the Foltz family, calls for the suspension of all Greek organizations across the country until they can “undergo rigorous safety training and demonstrate proper behavior.”
“Only when Greek organizations are forced to change at their core and Universities are held accountable will we end the decades-long behaviors that result in the humiliation, injury and death of college students nationwide,” the attorney’s statement reads in part.
Bowling Green State University issued a statement Wednesday calling the lawsuit “meritless.”
“Stone Foltz’s death was a tragedy, and what his family has endured is unimaginable. However, this lawsuit is meritless and undermines our continued efforts to eradicate hazing,” the university’s statement reads. “We are resolved in our legal position, and as a state-supported university, we will defend our community vigorously against this action. This will not deter our goal to continue to foster a community of care that serves our students and their families.”
Five former fraternity members have been sentenced to at least 2 years of controlled release in relation to Foltz’s death.
The full complaint is below.