The family of a boy who died as a result of hazing just agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit against Ohio University.
A wrongful death lawsuit against an Ohio University fraternity and several of its members was recently dismissed after a settlement was reached. The suit was filed by Kathleen and Wade Wiant, the parents of Collin Wiant specifically against Sigma Pi after a hazing event turned deadly. Collin was a freshman at the university at the time of the incident, which happened in late 2018. The suit was filed in February 2019, “three months after Collin died of asphyxiation after inhaling a canister of nitrous oxide at a home in Athens.”
Details of the settlement are confidential. Similar cases in the past often include nondisclosure agreements, which prevent the involved parties from discussing the terms of the settlement.
Back on November 12, 2018, Collin was found unresponsive “at a home on Mill Street used by members of the Epsilon chapter of Sigma Pi.” He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The suit claimed that Collin’s death resulted from hazing rituals, which included “practices such as consuming alcohol by the gallon, being beaten and told to beat other pledge members, being pelted with eggs, and being forced to take drugs,” according to the lawsuit.
The suit further alleged:
“The fraternity provided and/or forced pledges, including Collin, to take cocaine, marijuana, Adderall, and Xanax, along with moonshine and other types of alcohol…The combination of drugs and alcohol caused Collin to blackout numerous times.”
When Collin was first found, he was allegedly “surrounded by drug paraphernalia, including canisters of nitrous oxide.” A toxicology report was later conducted that found Collin “died of asphyxiation caused by nitrous oxide ingestion.”
In addition to the fraternity, the suit also named five fraternity members as defendants. Three of them were “dropped from the lawsuit last year and a settlement was reached with another in September.” A second settlement with Sigma Pi and the other two fraternity members was reached last month.
Shortly after the incident, the university “expelled the Sigma Pi chapter” from the school and a criminal investigation was launched. That investigation led to “indictments against nine people, most of them fraternity members.”
In addition to the suit, Collin’s parents also began lobbying for changes to the law that would “increase the penalties for hazing.” At the time, the penalty for hazing was a misdemeanor under Ohio law. Their efforts weren’t in vain. Earlier this year, the governor signed “Collin’s Law,” which now makes “hazing involving forced consumption of drugs or alcohol that seriously harms someone is now a third-degree felony punishable with prison time.”