COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Two years after his death, the family of an Ohio State University student fatally shot outside a fraternity party in 2020 has filed wrongful death lawsuits against the university, the chapter, and the national fraternity.
In the early hours of Oct. 11, 2020, Chase Meola, 23, died after being shot outside the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on East 14th Avenue in the University District. Meola was a fifth-year marketing major from Mahwah, N.J. According to lawsuits filed in federal and state courts Monday and Tuesday, Meola’s family accused the university’s chapter and the national organization of putting Meola’s life in danger by allowing the suspended fraternity to operate.
“Phi Kappa Psi chapters around the country, including the Ohio State University chapter, repeatedly flouted, ignored and violated laws and standard of conduct designed to protect the safety and well-being of university students inside and outside of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity,” the lawsuit read. “The National Phi Kappa Psi negligently supervised its local branches and ratified this behavior.”
In June 2018, the university placed Phi Kappa Psi under disciplinary suspension for hazing and other violations of the student code of conduct, according to Ohio State’s sorority and fraternity conduct history. The fraternity lost its student organization status because it never began the process to regain recognition, Ohio State spokesperson Chris Booker said in an email.
“The shooting death of Chase Meola was a heartbreaking tragedy, and his family and friends remain in our thoughts,” Booker said. “We will carefully review today’s legal filing.
Despite being under suspension, Phi Kappa Psi’s members continued to operate as a fraternity, Meola’s family claimed. The suit argued the fraternity’s national organization did not properly supervise its local charters. The family accused the national organization of tacitly sanctioning illegal fraternity operations.
The fraternity should have never been allowed to throw a party on the night Meola died, the lawsuit argued, and both the national organization and local charter should have taken safety precautions — including providing members education about off-campus safety and hiring security for fraternity events. The suit filed against Ohio State claimed the university did not adequately warn Meola or other students about the potential dangers of living off campus.
Ronald Ransom II, executive director of the Phi Kappa Psi national organization, declined to comment on the lawsuit but said in an email the fraternity keeps “Chase’s family, friends and the entire Ohio State University community in our thoughts and prayers.”
Meola’s family seeks $75,000 in damages.
Columbus police arrested Kintie Mitchell Jr., then 18, near the scene of the shooting. He is not affiliated with Ohio State. He pled not guilty to two counts of murder and awaits trial. His next scheduled court appearance is Dec. 14.
Both lawsuits can be read below: