National fraternity groups excused from hazing lawsuits

June 17, 2014 By Tim Evans
IndyStar

A pair of decisions by the Indiana Supreme Court released two national fraternity organizations from liability claims involving one Wabash College student who died and another who was seriously injured in alleged hazing incidents.

The lawsuits can move forward against the local chapters — but not the national organizations — of Delta Tau Delta and Phi Kappa Psi, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in two decisions handed down since February.

The decisions should help bolster efforts by the national organizations to educate their campus chapters and discourage hazing, said Bryan Babb, attorney for the North-American Interfraternity Conference, an Indianapolis-based trade group representing 74 men's fraternities. Beforehand, the fear of being held responsible for some tragedy could have chilled such efforts.

Indianapolis attorney Kevin C. Schiferl, who represented one of the national fraternities involved in the lawsuits, said the decisions have implications that extend far beyond the Greek system. He explained they create a common-sense precedent covering groups such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Veteran of Foreign Wars and others with local chapters of a national organization.

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