Family files lawsuit in death of fraternity pledge at Ohio University

(CNN)The parents of a dead fraternity pledge have filed a lawsuit against the fraternity, alleging their son died last fall as a result of extensive hazing.

While pledging the Sigma Pi fraternity at Ohio University, Collin Wiant was allegedly made to undergo severe hazing, including being beaten with a belt, punched, made to take drugs, forced to drink a gallon of alcohol in an hour and deprived of sleep.
“The hazing caused bodily injury, emotional distress and ultimately, Collin Wiant’s death,” the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, filed Thursday in Athens County Court, a toxicology report showed Wiant died of “asphyxiation due to nitrous oxide ingestion.” Canisters of nitrous oxide are sometimes used as inhalants, known as “whippets.”
In an interview with CNN, Rex Elliott, the Wiant family’s attorney, said there was “little doubt” Wiant’s death was caused by being forced into hazing activities.
“He would be alive today if they hadn’t hazed him,” Elliott said.
The lawsuit names as defendants the chapter at Ohio University, the Sigma Pi International office and 10 John Does that the suit claims are liable for Wiant’s injuries. It accuses them of hazing, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy.
A spokeswoman for the Athens, Ohio, school extended the university’s condolences to Wiant’s family in a statement and said its local Sigma Pi fraternity chapter “remains on a cease and desist order from the university, pending investigation.”
The fraternity chapter did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
Sigma Pi Executive Director and CEO Jonathan Frost said in a statement to CNN on Friday that the fraternity had not been served with a lawsuit and was unable to comment.
“We are aware of the tragic passing of Collin Wiant this past November and we continue to extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends,” Frost said.

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