The parents of Timothy Piazza are suing 28 former Penn State Beta Theta Pi fraternity members for wrongful death, negligence and conspiracy. The 19-year-old pledge died after falling down the stairs at a drinking event at the fraternity on Feb. 2, 2017.
Fraternity members waited for nearly 12 hours to call for help after the fall. They carried Piazza to a couch, where they slapped him and poured liquid on him to try to wake him. Later Piazza stumbled around the fraternity, falling more, and in the morning they found him cold and rigid.
According to the Piazzas’ lawyer, Tom Kline, fraternity members “planned, orchestrated, organized, oversaw, participated in, facilitated, or directed the hazing of pledges, including Timothy Piazza.”
Kline also announced the Piazzas had reached a settlement with Penn State focused on fraternity reforms, many of which have already been instituted, and a financial settlement for an undisclosed amount of money.
St. Moritz Security Systems, Inc. is also named in the lawsuit. The company monitored fraternity parties for Penn State’s Interfraternity Council and visited Beta Theta Pi just minutes before the fall that ultimately led to Timothy Piazza’s death.
Kline said the lawsuit is necessary to prevent future tragedies.
“With the assistance of recovered fraternity house interior surveillance video, and text messages amongst the defendants, we intend to hold all those responsible for Tim’s death fully accountable,” Kline said. “Only through the civil justice process can these objectives be accomplished.”
In a press release, Penn State announced its agreement with the Piazza family and outlined the Greek-life reforms it has instituted, including the recent creation of the Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform.
“These measures provide an opportunity for Penn State to continue to lead the nation in Greek-life reforms that identify promising approaches to building and sustaining a strong community of purpose,” Penn State said in the release.
About two dozen former Beta Theta Pi members have entered plea deals to criminal charges, including hazing, conspiracy to commit hazing and furnishing alcohol to minors. Three members still await trial.