The national Phi Gamma Delta fraternity claims a former MU student left unresponsive following alcohol poisoning at a local chapter event event “acted unreasonably” by “knowingly and voluntarily” consuming a large amount of alcohol.
The fraternity, commonly known as Fiji, argued in a court filing that it should not be held liable for injuries suffered by Daniel Santulli during an October “Pledge Father Reveal” party.
Fiji also downplayed the amount of control or knowledge it had of such events at local chapters. The party was not “an event, occasion, or incident planned, controlled, approved by, or known to” the national organization, its attorney wrote.
In a joint action with MU administration, Fiji suspended the local chapter the morning after Santulli was hospitalized with alcohol poisoning.
His parents have filed a civil lawsuit in Boone County Circuit Court against the national fraternity and several of its members.
Fiji initially directed “thoughts and prayers” toward the family in a statement issued when the lawsuit arrived, but it requested dismissal of the case in the Tuesday filing.
Other recent filings indicate that a former MU employee is among the defendants.
Jack O’Neill worked on the staff at the MU School of Journalism at the time of the incident, according to university payroll records. An MU spokesperson confirmed O’Neill is no longer employed by the university, though it’s not clear when he left the position or whether that departure was voluntary.
O’Neill also served as the live-in house director, or “house dad,” for the local Fiji chapter.
The lawsuit alleges O’Neill was negligent in not reporting plans for the event to university police, failing to prevent minors from accessing alcohol and failing to change a culture of “abusive” behavior.
O’Neill denied those allegations in a March 29 filing while also requesting the lawsuit’s dismissal.