Family warns after $6.1 million price tag for son’s death in alcohol-fuelled fraternity ritual

The family of a student who died from an alcohol-fueled bullying ritual say $6.1 million in damages could help them end the practice on campus.

Max Gruber had been a month-long student at Louisiana State University in 2017 when he died of alcohol poisoning and aspiration following a hazing ritual Phi Delta Theta fraternity house.

A court was told how the 18-year-old, from Roswell, Georgia, took part in the ritual, which required a commitment to chug from a bottle of a liquor called Diesel for three to five seconds.

An autopsy found Gruver had a blood alcohol level of 0.495 percent, more than six times the state’s legal limit for driving.

Gruver’s parents, Rae Ann and Stephen Gruver, were in court in Baton Rouge, Louisiana last week when the verdict was announced.

One of the family’s lawyers, Don Cazayoux, says it strengthens the family’s anti-harassment campaign.

“The first message is don’t do it because you could hurt someone, you could kill someone,” Mr Cazayoux said NBC News.

Gruver’s parents had already entered into confidential agreements with LSU, the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and at least 10 other fraternity members.

Stephen and Rae Ann Gruver with a photo of their son Max in a House committee room in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 2018


In 2019, Matthew Naquin of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, was sentenced to five years in prison for involuntary manslaughter. A judge suspended all but two and a half years.

Ryan Isto and another fraternity member, Sean Paul Gott, pleaded no-appeal to a misdemeanor charge related to the criminal case and were sentenced to 30 days in prison.

“While the verdict cannot – and never – atones for this loss, it is another important step in our mission to end bullying,” the family said The New York Times in an opinion.

“We are grateful that the jury understood that Max and his sworn brothers had no real choice and were not to blame for the hell they endured. And, significantly, the jury’s verdict destroyed the notion that a mere spectator of bullying absolves a fraternity member of responsibility.” Family warns after $6.1 million price tag for son’s death in alcohol-fuelled fraternity ritual

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