Parents Of Penn State Hazing Victim Settle With Fraternity

Sep 5, 2018

The parents of Tim Piazza, who died after a night of hazing and drinking at Penn State's Beta Theta Pi chapter, have settled with the national fraternity, according to their lawyer.

The amount for which Jim and Evelyn Piazza settled with Beta Theta Pi is undisclosed, family attorney Thomas Kline said.

Beta Theta Pi has also agreed to a 17-point program to make chapters safer and penalize groups for hazing, he said, reforms that will "help establish a baseline for the new norm" of fraternity life.

"The settlement represents a unique, cooperative agreement, and is an outgrowth of the determined dedication by Jim and Evelyn Piazza to the cause of preventing hazing injury and death in Greek life in the future," Kline said. 

The program mandates safety education for Greek students and demands transparency from the fraternities. It also requires "all chapter houses to be alcohol-and substance-free by August of 2020." 

National leaders of Beta Theta Pi said the fraternity is focused on adopting "accountability measures," although the Penn State chapter, which Tim Piazza pledged to in February 2017, claimed to be a dry fraternity. 

Piazza, a 19-year-old engineering student from Lebanon, New Jersey, participated in a series of drinking stations on bid acceptance night, as well as a ceremony involving the rapid consumption of alcohol.

The house's elaborate video security system recorded him stumbling to a couch on the first floor before falling down the steps to the basement. He was carried back upstairs, and spent the night in evident pain, most of it on the couch.

After he was found unconscious in the basement the next morning, it took fraternity members about 40 minutes to summon an ambulance. He later died at a hospital.

Medical experts say he suffered a fractured skull and shattered spleen, and his blood-alcohol level has been estimated to have peaked at three or four times the legal limit for driving.

“It is heartbreaking and numbing to know our former members let Tim and his family down in such a tragic way," said S. Wayne Kay, general secretary and chairman of the Beta Theta Pi board.

A long and ongoing legal battle continues more than one and a half years later. But three judges have repeatedly thrown out the most severe charges, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, that prosecutors brought against the former fraternity brothers. 

The Piazzas required Beta Theta Pi to "immediately support the proposed Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law in Pennsylvania" as part of the settlement. The bill was introduced by State Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) and has been waiting for action in the House.