Lawsuit Filed In Death Of OU Fraternity Member

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ATHENS (WOUB) — The family of an Ohio University student that died is suing, claiming the fraternity for which the student was pledging engaged in hazing practices and neglected to care for him.

The Sigma Pi Fraternity’s Epsilon Chapter, along with the international Sigma Pi organization is listed in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Athens County Common Pleas Court. The plaintiffs in the suit are Wade and Kathleen Wiant, listed as co-administrators of the estate of Collin Wiant. Collin Wiant was the OU student who died in November at a residence at 45 Mill Street in Athens.

Court documents list this address as the “unofficial annex house” of the Epsilon Chapter, which was where attorneys in the case say Wiant was subject to hazing rituals including consuming alcohol by the gallon, being beaten and told to beat other pledge members, being pelted with eggs and being forced to take drugs, including nitrous oxide.

“The hazing caused bodily injury, emotional distress, and ultimately, Collin Wiant’s death,” the lawsuit states.

Immediately following Collin Wiant’s death, the university issued an “administrative directive” to the Epsilon chapter to “immediately cease and desist all organizational activities,” according to a university spokesperson.

The fraternity is being sued under seven counts: violation of Ohio’s anti-hazing statute, two counts of negligent supervision, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence and civil conspiracy.

“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 lawsuit states. “The combination of drugs and alcohol caused Collin to black out numerous times.”

Witnesses in the lawsuit said Collin Wiant seemed to be “acting completely fine” at about 2 a.m. on November 12, 2018. Less than an hour later, another fraternity member called 911, saying Wiant was unresponsive. After he died, attorneys say his body was found “surrounded by drug paraphernalia, including canisters of nitrous oxide.”

A toxicology report showed the man died of asphyxiation caused by nitrous oxide ingestion.

Also being sued as part of the lawsuit are “John Does 1-10” who are unknown, but are “intended to be any and all individuals and/or entities who are liable to plaintiff for the injuries and damages suffered which is the subject of this action.”

The lawsuits asks for damages “in excess of $25,000,” along with attorney fees and costs.

The fraternity, which is based in Lebanon, Tennessee, has not released a statement about the lawsuit. In November 2018, they released a statement expressing their condolences to the family of Collin Wiant.

“The Fraternity is in full support of the cease-and-desist order the University placed on the Chapter while the investigation is ongoing,” the statement reads. “Sigma Pi will work closely with the OU administration and local authorities during their review of this matter, and the Fraternity has advised all members to cooperate fully.”