NewsCovering Louisiana


Appeals Court: Suit over frat pledge's death can proceed

Posted at 10:52 AM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 11:52:00-04

BATON ROUGE, La. - A federal appeals court says the parents of a Louisiana State University freshman who died during a hazing ritual can pursue a lawsuit that says the university disciplines sororities and fraternities differently because of gender.

Stephen and Rae Ann Gruver filed a lawsuit in 2018 on behalf of their son Maxwell Gruver, who died from alcohol poisoning after a fraternity party in 2017.

On Tuesday, the appeals court ruled that because LSU accepts federal funding, it waives sovereign immunity from lawsuits claiming sexual discrimination. The suit said LSU committed discriminatory disciplinary actions by policing sorority hazing incidents stricter than fraternity hazing. LSU did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

To see our story about the work Gruver's parents are doing to try to prevent hazing deaths, click here.

In the criminal investigation following Gruver's death, one fraternity member was convicted by a jury and sentenced to more than two years in prison, and two others pleaded no contest and were sentenced to 30 days in jail. To read our stories about the young men who were convicted in connection with Gruver's death, click here and here.
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