Hazing at college—a deadly problem that needs to be fixed

by Charles Miller

Philip Dhanens was only a few weeks into his first semester at California State University when he died of alcohol poising while pledging for a fraternity. His parents have now filed a wrongful death suit against the fraternity Theta Chi Fraternity Inc., the local Beta Upsilon chapter, and six members of the fraternity. Three Fresno State students were charged last week with hazing and providing alcohol to Dhanens. The coroner’s office found that he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.36—nearly five times the legal driving limit.

Meanwhile, Northern Illinois University faces a wrongful death lawsuit regarding the death of David Bogenberger. The 19 year-old freshman died in November 2012 after drinking heavily at an NIU fraternity pledge party. The family’s lawsuit alleges that fraternity members made Bogenberger consume a dangerous amount of alcohol as part of a hazing ritual and then failed to help him when he passed out.

Florida A&M University is still trying to resolve a lawsuit filed by the family of Robert Champion, a university band drum major who died following a hazing ritual. The lawsuit claims university officials did not take enough action to stop hazing in the famed Marching 100 band before the death of their son. They have rejected a previous offer to settle the case for $300,000.

Two former University of Nebraska-Lincoln fraternity pledges who said they were hazed by members of Sigma Chi have settled their lawsuits against the university, the fraternity and its members. The lawsuit named the university, 14 of its members, its building corporation and its national organization. The suit alleged that pledges were verbally assaulted, paddled, forced to drink alcoholic concoctions and perform humiliating acts with other fraternity hopefuls — all at the direction of older members, some of them fraternity officers.

Loved One Injured in a Hazing Incident?

If you or someone you know has been injured or if you lost a loved one as a result of fraternity or college hazing, you need an experienced and knowledgeable law firm that can guide you through the legal process and obtain maximum compensation on your behalf.

Contact our attorneys for a free consultation to learn more about your legal rights. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free case evaluation form.


Case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case. Results of other cases do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.

Charles Attorney Headshot

by Charles Miller

Charles Miller is a licensed attorney and a partner at Heygood, Orr & Pearson. Charles focuses his practice on areas of complex commercial litigation and personal injury litigation.