Parents whose son died in hazing ritual settle lawsuit against former Ohio University fraternity

Posted on:

< < Back to

ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — The parents of an Ohio University freshman who died during a hazing ritual have dismissed their lawsuit against a fraternity following a settlement.

The Sigma Pi house
The former Sigma Pi house [File photo]
Kathleen and Wade Wiant sued Sigma Pi and several of its members in February 2019, three months after their son Collin died of asphyxiation after inhaling a canister of nitrous oxide at a home in Athens.

WOUB made several attempts to reach attorneys involved in the case to learn more about the settlement but did not receive any responses by the time this story was published. Settlements in civil cases often include nondisclosure agreements that prohibit the parties from discussing the terms of the settlement.

Collin Wiant was found unresponsive early on the morning of Nov. 12, 2018, at a home on Mill Street used by members of the Epsilon chapter of Sigma Pi. He was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital.

The lawsuit alleged that Wiant’s death was the result of hazing rituals. These rituals included practices such as consuming alcohol by the gallon, being beaten and told to beat other pledge members, being pelted with eggs and being forced to take drugs, the lawsuit alleged.

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

On the morning he died, Wiant was found surrounded by drug paraphernalia, including canisters of nitrous oxide, the lawsuit alleged.

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

Along with Sigma Pi, the lawsuit also named five of the fraternity’s members as defendants. Three of those members were dropped from the lawsuit last year and a settlement was reached with another in September. The settlement with Sigma Pi and the remaining fraternity member was reached last month.

Ohio University expelled the Sigma Pi chapter following Wiant’s death. A criminal investigation led to indictments against nine people, most of them fraternity members.

Wiant’s parents lobbied for changes to the law to increase the penalties for hazing, which was a misdemeanor offense under Ohio law.

 In July, the governor signed “Collin’s Law,” under which hazing involving forced consumption of drugs or alcohol that seriously harms someone is now a third-degree felony punishable with prison time.