An attorney for the family of Danny Santulli, who suffered severe brain damage after being compelled to drink large quantities of alcohol, announced the settlement with all 23 defendants named in the complaint.
The family of a University of Missouri student injured in a hazing incident has settled with all 23 defendants in a hazing lawsuit against the national Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.
According to The Columbia Daily News¸ former University of Missouri student Danny Santulli has been hospitalized in Colorado since the hazing incident.
Santulli, who was diagnosed with alcohol poisoning, suffered severe brain injuries and is currently in rehabilitation.
Attorney David Bianchi told Judge Joshua Devine of Boone County Circuit Court that the Santulli family has reached an agreement.
“We have settled with all 23 defendants,” Bianchi said on Tuesday.
Bianchi told reporters that Danny Santulli is severely impaired: while he has been receiving medical treatment, he can no longer walk, speak, or respond to commands.
Physicians are unsure whether the former University of Missouri student will be able to make even a partial recovery.
Bianchi said that the settlement funds will assist in providing Santulli with the continued care he will need going forward—and, potentially, for the rest of his life.
However, Bianchi said that the settlement amounts will not be made public.
Bianchi explained that Santulli’s parents and sister do not want publicity—they want Santulli to get better.
“They’re not anxious to have the amount of the settlements in the media,” Bianchi said. “All they’re interested in is that Danny is being taken care of.”
Bianchi said it appears that several other fraternity members may have been involved in the hazing incident. If so, the Santulli family will likely file an additional lawsuit or lawsuits.
“This is a terrible, terrible tragedy that has happened to this family,” Bianchi added. “We don’t celebrate these settlements.”
The Columbia Daily News notes that Santulli experienced alcohol poisoning during a pledge event.
Bianchi, adds the News, called the “pledge dad” reveal night the “granddaddy of all alcohol events.”
“They literally had a truck to bring all the alcohol in,” the lawyer said.
As part of his pledging process, Santulli was ordered to quickly consume an entire bottle of vodka.
Even as Santulli was drinking the vodka, other fraternity members poured beer down his throat “using a tube and funnel.”
The University of Missouri said that, on top of the settlements, the school plans to sanction at least 13 of the involved fraternity members.
“We haven’t heard of what the sanctions are,” Bianchi said. “Now we’re waiting to see what the prosecutors do.”
Bianchi indicated that, while Missouri has its own anti-hazing law, the state has been slow to take action.
“We’re approaching seven months since pledge dad reveal night,” he said. “There’s a 125-page police report. There’s surveillance video. I can’t imagine what other evidence is needed. Charges should have been filed by now.”
Despite the settlements and potential for criminal charges, Bianchi said he suspects the case will do little to deter other Greek-life organizations from continuing to haze incoming members.